Vegetation and Flora of China

Chinese flora has three characteristics.

1. A wide variety of plant life:

Statistics show that vascular plants in China have 353 families, 3,184 genera, and 27,150 species, or 56.9 percent, 24.5 percent and 11.4 percent respectively of the world's total, ranking China third in number of species after Malaysia and Brazil.

2. Complicated geographical distribution:

Of China's seed plants, 108 genera of 46 families are cosmopolitan, 1,467 genera of 168 families tropicopolitan, 931 genera of 77 families temperate, 278 genera of 7 families paleo-Mediterranean, and 196 genera of 3 families peculiar to China. China embraces almost all the woody temperate species and genera in the world and is the centre ornative home of many of them.

3. Ancient origin:

There are numerous ancient or primitive families and genera and
many remnant plants of the Tertiary Period in China. These include the gymnospermous plants cycas, ginkgo, and ephedra; cryptomeria, common China fir, water pine, metasequoia, and Taiwan flousiana of the China fir family; Cathaya argyrophy#a, fortune keteleeria, and golden larch of the pine family; the angiospermous plants Chinese tulip tree, lily magnolia, cottonrose hibiscus, and banana shrub of the magnolia family; and common callalily and several other plants of the Chinese witchhazel family.

Vegetation in China embraces practically all the major types in the world, including the endemic alpine-cold types, except those of the equatorial rainforest and polar tundra. The natural vegetation can be divided into 29 types, 52 subtypes, and well over 600 principal colonies. Major vegetation types are as follows:

1. Coniferous forests:

Found over vast areas in the temperate, subtropical, and
tropical mountain regions, with cold temperate, temperate, warm, and tropical coniferous subtypes.

2. Mixed needleleaf and broadleaf forests:

A transition type between cold-temperate coniferous forest and temperate deciduous broadleaf forest, found mainly in the upper parts of the eastern mountain areas of northeast China and the subtropical mountain regions.

3. Broadleaf forests:

Found over vast areas in the humid warm-temperate,
subtropical, and tropical mountain regions and along rivers in the arid regions of
northwest China, with such subtypes as deciduous broadleaf forest, mixed evergreen
deciduous broadleaf forest, evergreen broadleaf forest, monsoon evergreen
broadleaf forest, sclerophyllous broadleaf forest, monsoon forest, rainforest, man-
grove forest, and coral island evergreen forest--running anything up to 160
colonies or more.

4. Bushes:

Including the alpine-cold evergreen bush and the deciduous bush
(found mainly in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau THE LAND AND ITS NATURAL RESOURCES
and high mountains in other areas), temperate deciduous bush (found mainly in
subtropical low hills, limestone mountains, and dry and hot river valleys in the
southwest), evergreen broadleaf bush (scattered in tropical and subtropical hills and seaboard beaches), and prickly evergreen bush (found usually along tropical sea beaches). They are secondary vegetation, except the alpine-cold evergreen and the prickly evergreen types.

5. Grasslands:

Including such subtypes as steppe (typical grassland), forest grassland, meadow grassland, desert steppe, and alpine-cold steppe. These grasslands and steppes provide the principal natural pastures for China.
6. Savannas: Mostly of secondary vegetation and found only in the dry and hot river valleys in the southwest.

7. Deserts:

Widespread in the desert regions northwest of the Helan Mountains.

8. Alpine tundras:

Found only at the summit of the Changbai and Altay mountains, at an elevation of 2,100 and 3,000 metres or more respectively.

9. Alpinecushion plants:

Growing on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and surrounding
high mountains, at an altitude of 3,200 to 5,500 metres.

10. Meadows:

Overgrown with perennial herbs, and found in low-lying waterlogged
lands where the underground water level is contiguous to the earth's surface, including such subtypes as typical meadow, alpine-cold meadow, swamplike meadow, and salt meadow.
I1. Swamps: Made up of hygrophytes and found mainly in river or lake shores,
deltas, and other wet lowlands. Comprehensive Physical Regionalization

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 Related Books

Vegetation Atlas of China

Vegetation-Structure, Function and Dynamics