J Syst Evol

• Research Articles •    

Assessing conservation priorities of threatened medicinal plants in China: A new comprehensive phylogenetic scoring system

Zhang-Jian Shan1,2†, Qian Zhang1†, Dan-Xiao Peng1,2, Jian-Fei Ye1,3*, Lan Cao4, Zhi-Duan Chen1, and Hai-Ning Qin1   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3 China National Botanical Garden, Beijing 100093, China
    4 Research Center of Natural Resources of Chinese Medicinal Materials and Ethnic Medicine, Jiangxi University of Chinese Medicine, Nanchang 330004, China

    These authors contributed equally to this work.
    *Author for correspondence. E‐mail: yejf@ibcas.ac.cn
  • Received:2022-02-26 Accepted:2022-07-07 Online:2022-07-12


Over-harvesting, habitat loss and fragmentation, and biological invasions have led to a sharp decline in wild medicinal plants population in China, where they are an essential component of traditional medicine and used widely. The current national list of protected medicinal materials, the State Key-protected Wild Medicinal Species List (SKPWMSL), which has not been revised for 30 years, is in urgent need of an update. This study proposes a new scoring system with seven indicators that set the conservation priorities of threatened medicinal plants. The advantages of our approach include: (i) quantitative methods with high repeatability and comparability; and (ii) consideration of the evolutionary history of medicinal species. After assessing 911 threatened medicinal angiosperms in China, we identified 112 species as key medicinal plants for conservation priority (KMPCP). We suggest promoting the SKPWMSL with KMPCP as a supplement and update. Meanwhile, our scoring system will improve the future setting of conservation priority and can be extended to other countries or regions.

Key words: conservation priority, medicinal plants, evolutionary distinctiveness , phylogeny