J Syst Evol ›› 1979, Vol. 17 ›› Issue (3): 41-60.
• Research Articles •
Ying Tsün-Shen, Ma Cheng-Gong, Chang Che-Sung
Shennungia is generally known as “The highest mountain in Central China”. It is
situated at latitude 31°342'N., longitude 110°35'E. in western Hupeh.
The area explored is deeply cut in all sides by five V-shaped valleys, giving the
landscape a steep topography. Its summit is about 3105 meters above the sea level, and
the relative altitude is from 1000-2000 meters.
The climate of the region is warm temperate. The differences of humidity-warmth
condition between the eastern and the western flanks are quite marked.
In western Hupeh and the adjacent area of Szechuan the rugged topography still
preserves some tracts of natural forests at higher elevations. Our vegetational survey
is confined to localities above 1500 meters. The collection of plant samples of the flora
is extended to the whole mountain from the foothill to the peak. The present article
deals with only a part of the results of our survey.
1. The vertical vegetation belts of Mt. Shennungia and relationships with other
regions: The vegetation belts on the eastern and the western flanks of the mountain
are shown in diagram 2 and 3. The comparison of the vertical vegetation zones of the
Mt. Shennungia with those of the Yülungshan in N. W. Yunnan and the eastern
Himalaya to the west and with those of Hwangshan and Central Japan to the east
is shown in table 4, It shows that the plant communities of the Mt. Shennungia are of
temperate nature, and they are more closely related to those of Hwangshan in S.
Anhwei and of Central Japan than to the eastern Himalaya.
2. Floristic composition: The generic ranges of flowering plant are relatively
distinct and stable. Various distributional patterns of genera are analysized.
1) Statistics of the genera in various distributional patterns: The total number
of genera of flowering plants in this region are 762, belonging to the following four
categories. A) tropical genera 239 (31.3%), B) temperate genera 416 (54.7%), C)
endemic genera 47 (6%), and D) comsmopolitan genera 61 (8%).
2) Endemic genera: An examination of the composition of the flora in western
Hupeh reveals that 47 endemic Chinese genera occur in this mountain of which 24 are
monotypic genera, 20 oligotypic and 2 multitypic as shown in Table 4. The arborescent
genera are nearly all deciduous. They are of temperate nature.
3) Temperate genera: There are 416 genera in wastern Hupeh. They are
subdivides into the following three groups according to their distributional patterns:
A) The north temperate genera: There are 159 genera belonging to 62 families in
western Hupeh. B) Eastern Asian genera: There are 117 genera belonging to 69
families in western Hupeh. Among them 22 are common to the western Szechuan,
adjacent regions of Yunnan and the Eastern Himalaya. The remaining 95 genera are
commom to both eastern China and Japan. C) The Eastern Asian-eastern North-American genera: Of the total 762 genera known in western Hupeh, 64 are disjunctively distributed in both eastern Asia and eastern North-America.
4) The tropical genera: Of the 762 genera of the flowering plant of western
Hupeh, 239 (31%) are of tropical nature.
Finally, our survey shows: 1. Many of the primitive temperate genera and endemic relicts concentrate in western Hupeh and the adjacent region of Szechuan indicating that it might be one of refuges of tertiary flora. Moreover, it might also be one
of the most important regions of differentiation, development and distribution of temperature flora. 2. The vegetation of this region is not only of temperate nature, but
also of a transitional nature. 3. According to an analysis of the flora and a comparison of the vertical distribution of the vegetation of Yülungshan and Eastern Himalaya
to the west with Hwangshan and Central Japan to the east, the floristic affinity of
western Hupeh is more closely related to eastern China and Central Japan rather than
to the Eastern Himalaya, and phytogeographically this region is intermediate between
the Sino-Himalayan and the Sino-Japanese patterns. However, the problem of phytogeography of western Hupeh and the adjacent region of Szechuan is a complicated
one requiring further study.
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Ying Tsün-Shen, Ma Cheng-Gong, Chang Che-Sung. Observations of the flora and vegetation of Mt. Shennungia in western Hupeh, China. J Syst Evol, 1979, 17 (3): 41-60.
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