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[Travel Guide] [Yunnan] Exploring The Kingdom Of Plants [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2011-12-28 16:19:17 |Display all floors
This post was edited by ttt222 at 2011-12-28 16:19

Bordering on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the northwest and facing the Indo-Chinese Peninsula in the southeast, Yunnan is affected by southwest  and southeast monsoons alternatively, and has tropical, subtropical, temperate and frigid zones, thus making it possible for plants of different species to grow and propagate. There are more than 15,000 species of higher plant, which makes up half of the total in China, and 8 genera of the most primeval seed plants, which amounts to 2/3 of the total in the world. Therefore, "the Kingdom of Plants” is worthy its name for Yunnan.

Tropical Rainforests in Xishuangbanna--an oasis in the desert zone of the Tropic of Cancer
Xishuangbanna is located in 21º8´-22º36´ north latitude, south of the Tropic of Cancer, a transition region from the Asian Continent to the Indo-Chinese Peninsula. About 90 percent of the mountainous regions in Xishuangbanna is below the altitude of 1,300 meters, and is affected alternatively by the circulation of the west wind from the subtropical zone in the south and the monsoon from the India Ocean through the Bay of Bengal, thus forming a tropical climate with high temperature, lots of rain and the alternation of dry and rainy seasons, which provide a favorable ecological environment for the growth and succession of multi-plants and the tropical rainforests.

Tropical Rain Forest

Xishuangbanna is miraculous in that, while such regions at the same latitude as in West Asia, Middle Asia and North Africa are almost all deserts, large areas of tropical rainforest are preserved here. In this land, which makes up only 1/500 that of China, grow about 5,000 species of seed plants and pteridophyte, and this accounts for 1/6 of the total in China and 1/3 in Yunnan among which 58 species are included in rare or endangered plants under state protection.

China Meranti--the “giant” among plants

In the tropical rainforests in Xishuangbanna grows the tallest arbor plant in China-China Meranti, which is the first-class state-protection plant. The China Meranti grows in river valleys with an altitude between 350 and 1,100 meters or in the tropical rainforests at the damp foot of mountains. The average height of the tree is above 60 meters with the highest being 80meters. It is, therefore, the “giant” of the forest just like a crane standing among chickens.

A Forest Made by One Tree--the biggest tree in China

In Tongbiguan of Yingjiang County, Yunnan Province there is a Chinese Banyan whose crown covers an area of 5.5 Chinese mu, and which has 108 new trunks developed from clinging roots growing down into the ground. It is the biggest tree of 300 years old in China. Growing in tropical forests, the Chinese Banyan is big and tall and needs more nutrients, and, therefore, lots of clinging roots grow out of the trunk and the branches to take in water and nutrients in the air. When the clinging roots grow down into the ground, the ecological wonder comes into being-“a forest made by one tree”.

Plank Buttresses Root--anomalous root system of plants

In the tropical forests in Xishuangbanna trees are usually big and tall with their roots growing into the surface layer of the ground only, therefore, plank buttresses come into being to support the stock. The biggest plank buttress is 5 meters high and extends 12 meters.

Old Stems Blossom and Bear Fruit--spring comes to the withered stems

Some plants in the tropical rainforests such as Brightred Mayodendron, Jackfruit and Many-veins Baccaurea do not blossom or bear fruits on the annual or biennial twigs but  they do on the stems or branches and even on the lower parts of the stems.

Common Antiaris--the “killer plant”

Growing in the tropical rainforests is the 30-meter-tall upas with extremely poisonous latex, which kills instantly when man or animal eat it, thus called the “killer plant”. The local people paint the latex on arrowheads to kill wild animals. Upas, which can quicken heart rate and enlarge the amount of blood pumped by the heart, is a medical plant of good prospect.

Spiny Tree Fern--the live fossil plant

The Spiny Tree Fern, which is called the live fossil plant, is one of the most primeval plants existing on earth, and is under the first-class state protection. The Spiny Tree Fern can be used for food and medicine, can be made into exquisite handicrafts, and is of high ornamental value.

Southeast Dracaena--the plant with the longest life on earth

In Xishuangbanna grows a precious medical plant, the Southeast Dracaena, whose trunk is short and thick, bark is grayish with longitudinal cracks and leaves are luxuriant. When cut by a knife, it will “bleed”. The life span of the Southeast Dracaena can be over 6000 years. Therefore, it is the plant with the longest life on earth.

Chinese Yew--the most expensive medical plant on earth

In the National Nature Reserve in the northwest  of Yunnan Province grows a rare plant-the Chinese Yew, and it is under the first-class state protection. According to research, in the roots, trunk, leaves and barks of the Chinese Yew exists the highest content of pacilitaxel, which is the most expensive cure for cancer and the price of it reaches 10 million USD every kg in the international market, so it is reguarded as the most expensive medical plant on earth.

Rhododendron Protistum Vav. Giganteum--the biggest azalea tree in the world

Rhododendron protistum Vav. giganteum, which is the biggest of the 850 known species of azalea, grows halfway up the west side of the Gaoligongshan Mountains at an altituce of 2,350-2,480 meters, and are in full bloom from January to March every year. In 1981, another Rhododendron protistum Vav. giganteum that is 25 meters tall with 3 meters in its lower trunk diameter was discovered in Yunnan. According to appraisal, the tree is 640 years old and is the biggest discovered so far in the world.

Three Kings of Tea Trees--the witnesses of “Yunnan is the sources of tea”

China is the home of tea trees, and the Chinese people started tea-culture first in the world. The origin of tea trees is in Xishuangbanna and Simao (Pu'er) Prefectures, south of Yunnan Province, where a complete chain of wild, transitional and cultivated old tea trees were discovered from 1953 to 1991, thus making this region a natural museum of the evolution of tea-culture. The king of wild tea trees is generally acknowledged in Bada of Menghai County, Xishuangbanna Prefecture, which is over 1,700 years old. The king of transitional tea trees, which is over 1,000 years old, is in Bangwai of Lancang County, Simao (Pu'er) Prefecture, and the 800-year-old king of cultivated tea trees is in the Nannuo Mountain, Menghai County. Throughout ages, tea has been Yunnan’s staple export. Tea, coffee and coco are the three main beverages in the world, of which the sale of tea is the largest, and the tea-drinking custom has spread over 160 countries and regions in the world.

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Royal Water Lily--the biggest water lily

In Mengcang Botanical Garden, Xishuangbanna grows the biggest water lily in Yunnan-Royal Water Lily, whose basin-shaped leaf with great buoyancy can carry a baby of 20 kilogrammes. Royal Water Lily is perennial aquatic herb with above-water flowers that turn from yellow to rose and can reach 25-30 centimeters in diameter; the Royal Water Lily is introduced from Brazil to Xishuangbanna in 1963.

The Eight Celebrated Flowers--exotic flowers are all over Yunnan
As early as the 19th century, Yunnan’s flowers started to win the adoration of the western countries, and Yunnan is renowned as “paradise for horticulturists”. Among the flowers the most gorgeous ones are“eight celebrated flowers”.

Camellia--the best under the sun Yunnan

Of over 80 species of camellia genus 35 species are in Yunnan; the camellia that is evergreen bush or small tree blooms brightly in winter and spring with a variety of species. As early as more than 1000 years ago, the camellia had been grown in temples and royal courts during the period of Nanzhao Kingdom and Dali Kingdom, and in late Yuan and early Ming Dynasties, it started to come into ordinary families.

Orchid--giving off the best fragrance

Orchid family, to which the orchid belongs, is a big family with the most complete species and the most extensive distribution in plant world. Of 1,600 species in the orchid family in China, 530 species are found in Yunnan, among which many are wild ones,and, therefore, Yunnan is unparalleled in this respect. The orchid originally grew in remote mountains and deep valleys, but is loved and entrusted with cultural significance for its elegance and pure fragrance. In ancient China, good articles were called "Lanzhang”, the sincere friendship among friends was called “Lanyi”, and when a worthy person died young, it was considered “Lancuiyuzhe”, which means “the orchid has withered and the jade is broken”.

Azalea--the beauty of flowers

Azalea that is mainly distributed in temperate and sub-tropical zones grows in the mountains 800-4,500 meters above the sea level in Yunnan. Of world’s over 800 species, over 600 species are found in China and more than 300 species in Yunnan, therefore, Yunnan is the “origin and distribution center of the azalea”. The colors of the azaleas in Yunnan are mainly white, pink white, yellow, rosy, red and purplish.

Lily--holy, pure and elegant

Of more than 40 species of lily in China, over 20 species are in Yunnan. With its bright and beautiful flowers, gentle and graceful stalks, lily has moved many men of letters to writing poems and painting for it. “Baihe” (the Chinese name for lily) in Chinese means “life-long happiness and perfect harmony” and “everything is satisfactory”, therefore, there must be lilies at a traditional Chinese wedding, and lilies are also given on festivals to expressblessings.

Primrose--changing the land into brocade

The northwest of Yunnan is the distribution center of primroses, where 158 out of world’s 500 species are found, which amounts to 30 percent of the total. The species of  primrose in Yunnan are mainly wild ones and can be found everywhere from mountains to plains and from hills to deep valleys.

Gentian--clear, bright and graceful

Gentian is another jewel of flowers in Yunnan, where nearly 200 out of world’s 800 species can be found. The flowers of gentian, mainly in blue and purple, are big and bright with corolla tubes and bloom in late autumn and early winter.

Yulan magnolia--shining and exquisite

Magnolia, which belongs to magnolia genus, magnolia family, is one of the most primeval higher plants. The colors of Yulan magnolia that are commonly found in Yunnan are white, purple and cinnabar.

Meconopsis--a rare herb in snowy mountains

Meconopsis, a celebrated alpine herb flower, grows mainly in Middle Asia, and it grows in the alpine zone at an altitude of over 3,000 meters  in northwest Yunnan province. There are altogether 49 species in the world, of which 38 are found in China and 17  in Yunnan. Meconopsis has big flowers with 4 to 8 dazzling petals in a riot of color such as red, pink, purple, yellow, blue and white.

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