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line drawing

Line drawing of several of the varieties; for full size image go to the Flora of China (Wu and Raven 1999).


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Conservation status

Tsuga chinensis

(Franchet) Pritzel ex Diels 1900

Taiwan hemlock (Liu 1970).

Taxonomic notes

Different authorities have differing opinions on the designation of varieties within this species. Considering only the most recent analyses, Farjon (1990, 1998) recognizes var. oblongisquamata Cheng and Fu 1975, and var. robusta Cheng and Fu 1975, and stoutly maintains that var. formosana is synonymous with the type variety. Wu and Raven (1999) raise var. oblongisquamata to the rank of species, yet say that it is "perhaps better treated as a variety" of T. chinensis, while subdividing chinensis into a type variety, var. formosana (Hayata) H.L. Li and H. Keng 1954, var. patens (Downie) Fu and Li 1997, var. forrestii (Downie) Silba 1990, and var. robusta Cheng and Fu 1975.

For the time being, I have chosen to here present a description of var. formosana that I wrote for the website a few years ago. It is at least geographically distinct, being the only variety native to Taiwan. The interested reader is referred to Wu and Raven (1999) for online information that includes a key to and description of the varieties noted above, as well as to T. oblongisquamata, which I will continue to recognize as a variety of this species.


"A large tree, branchlets with leaf-cushions. Leaves spirally arranged, more or less 2-ranked, linear, flat, olive green and grooved above, keeled, with 2 white stomatic bands beneath, the apex emerginate, 16-20 mm. long, petioles crooked. Mature cones ovoid, 2-2.5 cm. long, pendulous, cone scales suborbicular, with longitudinal streaks, bracts small, 2 lobed at the apex. Seeds winged, about 7 mm. long, including the wing. Trunk bark blackish brown, with irregular longitudinal breaks, scaly; lenticels inconspicuous; outer barks about 6 mm.thick, with alternate tiered layers of pale yellowish brown corky layers and brown lignified fibrous layers; newly formed periderm purplish red; inner bark about 4-5 mm. thick, pale reddish brown, fibrous with minute, nearly inconspicuous stone-cell groups, cambium and newly formed phloem almost inconspicuous. Freshly cut sapwood pale yellowish white, wood rays inconspicuous" (Liu 1970).

Distribution and Ecology

China; Taiwan: Nantou and Taoyuan Xian at 1700-3500 m, mixed with broadleaf forest; not common (HAST Database). Hardy to Zone 6 (cold hardiness limit between -23.2°C and -17.8°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

Big tree

Often attains a diameter of 200 cm (Liu 1971).


Age often exceeds 400 years (Liu 1971).


Have some exploratory cores from the Hailuogou Glacier Park in Sichuan. It has seen some limited application in stable carbon isotope studies (Leavitt et al. 1995) and a study of climate variation (Wu 1995).



Seen at Hailuogou Glacier Park in Sichuan. Taiwan collections reported for: Yushan National Park (23°28'N, 120°57'E), Lalashan Preserve (121°25'30"E, 24°44'00"N) (HAST Database).

Yushan National Park looks like a good place to see it.


Dominates a widespread forest altitudinal belt in the mountains of SW China at 2200-2700(3300) m (Liu 1971).

Listed as threatened in Viet Nam by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.


Leavitt, S.W., Malcolm K. Hughes, Liu Y. and An Z. 1995. Stable-carbon isotope tree-ring chronologies from Xian, China. In S. Ohta, T. Fujii, N. Okada, M.K. Hughes and D. Eckstein, eds., Tree Rings: From the Past to the Future. Proceedings of the International Workshop on Asian and Pacific Dendrochronology. Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute Scientific Meeting Report 1: 182-186.

Wu Xiangding. 1995. Tree-ring width chronologies and their response to climate in the Qinling Mountains, China. In Sheu D.D., R.S. Bradley and Wang W.-C., eds., High Resolution Records of Past Climate from Monsoon Asia: The Last 2000 Years and Beyond. Terrestrial, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences 5(3): 365-372.

See also

Hiep et al. 2004.

Luu and Thomas 2004 provide a description, range map, conservation status, drawings and photos, and a wealth of additional information.

Last Modified 2012-11-27