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Introduction of Vietnam conifers: Taiwania cryptomerioides

Last modified on 16/6/2009 at 9:40:00 AM. Total 1524 views.

Data base

Common name: Bach dai loan
English name: taiwania
Scientific name: Taiwania cryptomerioides Hayata
Synonymy: Taiwania flousiana Gaussen.
Family: Cupressaceae

Conservation status

Global status VULNERABLE A1d

Existing national status NOT EVALUATED

Proposed national assessment CRITICALLY ENDANGERED A2c, B1ab (i-v), B2ab (i-v), C2a(ii) Globally this species was listed as Vulnerable; however, the size of the single Vietnamese population is currently estimated to be around only 130 trees within an area of less than 3 km2. It is therefore classified as Critically Endangered at the national level using IUCN (2001) criteria.


An emergent, single stemmed tree, broadly pyramidal or with few large horizontal branches and pendulous branchlets in upper crown. It reaches up to 40 m high with a dbh to 1.2 m. It is found on granite derived soils from 1800 – 2100 m amsl and in areas with mean annual temperature about 130 C with the mean temperature of the hottest month less than 170 C, annual rainfall over 3000 mm with no dry months. Found associated with Fokienia hodginsii. Natural regeneration episodic, thought to be limited by frequent fires.


A single, small disjunct population in Vietnam has recently been found in Lao Cai (Van Ban). It was evaluated and assessed as indigenous following field studies by several of the authors of this report (Nguyen Tien Hiep et al., 2002; Farjon et al., 2004a). Outside of Vietnam it is found in Myanmar and China (Yunnan and Taiwan). The isolation of the Vietnamese trees means that they represent a distinct population.

Taiwania cryptomerioides
1, 8-9. Cone-bearing branchlet and seed cones. 2. Young tree branchlet. 3. Leaf of young branchlet, abaxial view. 4-7. Leaves of old branchlet, adaxial and abaxial views. 10. Seed scale, abaxial view. 11. Seed scale, adaxial view. 12-13. Seeds, adaxial view. (Drawn from
NTH 5154 by Bui Xuan Chuong ).


This tree produces very high quality timber for construction (including roofing shingles), furniture and coffins (Fu Li-kuo & Jin Jian-ming, 1992). It is also a very ornamental tree suitable for montane areas and is known to contain compounds with anti-cancer and insecticidal properties (Kan He et al., 1997). The species has considerable cultural significance in China due to its longevity and stature. It could potentially be the tallest tree in Vietnam and have similar flagship value


This species is extensively exploited for its valuable timber in Myanmar, Yunnan and Taiwan. The Vietnamese population has suffered from felling in the past (possibly by the SFE as well as local people) and regeneration is restricted by the continued use of fires in the area following clearance (whether through a natural fire or from harvesting over 40 years ago) for grazing purposes. Naturally this species is thought to require fire to regenerate, but the frequency and intensity of artificial fires in the Van Ban area allows woody angiosperms, scrub and grass to take over. As a result, most of the remaining trees are restricted to rocky areas that are not subject to burning. Due to the extremely fragmented forest remnants in which it occurs (c. 90% of forest within the area of occurrence has been destroyed) any further fires will now directly threaten the remaining trees (Farjon et al., 2004a).

Protected Area status

Currently the population is not within a protected area; however, Lao Cai Forest Protection Department and Flora & Fauna International (Vietnam) are currently working on a community based conservation project in an attempt to ensure its in situ conservation.

Current conservation measures

Seed collection aimed at providing material for restoration work as well as seed banking and utilisation trials has been undertaken by the Central Forest Seed Company as part of its project with the International Conifer Conservation Programme (Thomas & Nguyen Duc To Luu, 2004a). It is planned to return over 250 seedlings to near the site in early 2005 with local community cooperation. Work is under way to mark individual trees and assess the level of regeneration.

Recommended conservation action

This species should be included in Group IA of the List of Rare and Precious Flora and Fauna and Vietnam Red Data Book for full protection. The site of the trees should be established as a nature reserve with strong local community involvement in this remote area. Fire breaks should be installed around remaining populations. Awareness raising and community development programs should be implemented, especially for people in Phinh Ngai and Lung Cung villages, Nam Co Commune, Yen Bai Province who live closest to the remaining trees.Seed collection and production of planting materials should serve for on-site replanting and restoration work in order to reconnect metapopulations. Reforestation work will require the appropriate involvement of Van Ban State Forest Enterprise as the trees are currently on land assigned for their management. Research into possible genetic variation between all populations would be useful for understanding the evolutionary history of the species. National and international collaboration therefore is important in conservation of the species.

Source: Nguyen Tien Hiep, Phan Ke Loc, Nguyen Duc To Luu, Philip Ian Thomas, Aljos Farjon, Leonid Averyanov and Jacinto Regalado Jr. "Vietnam Conifers, Conservation satus review 2004"


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