In 1928, after studying at various institutions in Hangzhou and Shanghai, though without attaining any formal qualifications, Cai Xitao was able to secure a job at the Jing Sheng Botanic Laboratory in Beijing (北平静生生物调查所) through family connections. In 1932, he was transferred to Yunnan province, where he worked as a botanist in the province's temperate climate. In 1938, he set up the Yunnan Botany Research Institute (云南农林植物研究所) in Heilongtan, and acted as the institute's Vice President.
He died on 9 March 1981.
- Cai Xitao Biography (Chinese)
- Kunming Institute of Botany C.I.S. Website (Chinese)
- Harvard University Herbaria