Taiwania (Taiwania cryptomerioides) is a large coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae, formerly listed in the segregate family Taxodiaceae. It is native to eastern Asia, growing in the mountains of central Taiwan, and locally in southwest China (Guizhou, Hubei, Sichuan, Yunnan) and adjoining Myanmar, Tibet, and northern Vietnam. It is endangered by illegal logging for its valuable wood in many areas. It is very likely that the range was more extensive in the past before extensive felling for the wood.
It is one of the largest tree species in Asia, reported to heights of up to 90 m tall and with a trunk up to 4 m diameter above buttressed base. The leaves are needle-like or awl-like and 8–15 mm long on young trees up to about 100 years old, then gradually becoming more scale-like, 3–7 mm long, on mature trees. The cones are small, 15–25 mm long, with about 15-30 thin, fragile scales, each scale with two seeds.
The populations in mainland Asia are treated as a distinct species Taiwania flousiana by some botanists, but the claimed differences between these and the Taiwanese population are not consistent when a number of specimens from each area are compared.
The genus is named after the island of Taiwan, from where it first became known to the botanical community in 1910.
The wood is soft, but durable and attractively spicy scented, and was in very high demand in the past, particularly for temple building and coffins. The rarity of the tree and its slow growth in plantations means legal supplies are now very scarce; the species has legal protection in China and Taiwan.
- Thomas, P. & Farjon, A. (2011). "Taiwania cryptomerioides". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
- Flora of China, Vol. 4 Page 56, 台湾杉 tai wan shan, Taiwania cryptomerioides Hayata, J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 37: 330. 1906.
- Farjon, A. (2005). Monograph of Cupressaceae and Sciadopitys. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. ISBN 1-84246-068-4
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