Abeliophyllum distichum 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Scrophulariales Oleaceae

Scientific Name: Abeliophyllum distichum
Species Authority: Nakai
Common Name(s):
English White Forsythia
Abeliophyllum distichum fma. albiflorum Nakai
Abeliophyllum distichum fma. lilacinum Nakai
Taxonomic Source(s): Chang, C.-S. and Kim, H. 2002. Overlooked and invalidly published names of Korean woody plants. J. Korea Pl. Taxon 32(3): 363-371.
Taxonomic Notes: Nakai (1919) first described the genus Abeliophyllum Nakai based on his own collection (syntype, Nakai 8147, 8149 8150) in Jincheon, Chungcheongbuk-do, south Korea. Several infraspecific taxa of A. distichum have been recognized in Korea, however these are mainly on the basis of colour variance and are invalidly published (Lee 1976, Chang and Kim 2002).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-11-01
Assessor(s): Son, S.-W., Kim, Y.-S. & Kim, H.
Reviewer(s): Chang, C.-S.
Abeliophyllum distichum has an estimated area of occupancy (AOO) of about 72 km². It is known to occur in nine locations. The distances between each subpopulation range from 20–220 km, making the population severely fragmented (i.e., the distance between subpopulations is likely to be too great to allow for effective gene flow). There is clear and documented evidence of a continuing decline in quality and quantity of habitat due to a number of factors which include the effects of deforestation. For these reasons A. distichum has been assessed as Endangered.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to Korea. It is mostly found in Chungcheongbuk-do, Jeollabuk-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do and Gyeonggi-do provinces in South Korea. Its area of occupancy is estimated to be 27,460 km² and its area of occupancy (AOO), based on a 2x2 km grid, is 72 km². Historically six distinct localities have been recorded in South Korea.
Countries occurrence:
Korea, Republic of
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:72Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:27460
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):Unknown
Number of Locations:9
Lower elevation limit (metres):50
Upper elevation limit (metres):200
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This plant is known from about 18 subpopulations within six locations. There are less than few hundreds mature individuals in each subpopulation. For example, there are ca. 800 flowering plants in the Buan subpopulation (one of the largest subpopulations in South Korea). In South Korea, the species has a fragmented distribution.

The species was first described in 1919 by Professor Takenoshin Nakai(1919) who originally collected it in the 'Chinsen (Jincheon) Hills of central Korea. Historically six distinct localities have been recorded in South Korea, with unconfirmed records from North Korea. These comprise three subpopulations in the Goesan-gun area; one subpopulation at Mount Pukhan National Park, discovered in 1973 by Yong No Lee, Yong Ja Oh and Schneider in the vicinity of the Seoul metropolitan area; one subpopulation at Yongdong-up, Chungcheongbuk-do, discovered in 1990; and one locality in Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do, discovered 1992 (Kim and Maunder 1998). From the first discovery, however, individuals found in Mount Pukhan National Park were believed to have originated in the local nursery (Lee et al. 2014). The subpopulation recorded at Jincheon-gun has subsequently been extirpated (Natural Monument No. 14). The subpopulation at Buan-gun has been partly destroyed by dam construction with several hundred rooted suckers translocated to a safe site in an adjacent valley during 1994 by the Department of Forest Resources, Chonpuk National University (Kim and Maunder 1998). Recently, new localities at Uiseong-gun, Yeoju-gun and Youngdong-gun were reported (Kim and Kim 2008, Shin et al. 2010, Lee et al. 2014).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:4000
Population severely fragmented:Yes
No. of subpopulations:8

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Abeliophyllum grows as an understorey shrub in mixed deciduous woodland, often under Pinus densiflora, Quercus serrata and Q. acutissima. It forms a low growing and open thicket of suckering growths. In early spring before leaf-break, the white flowers of Abeliophyllum make a spectacular show against the russets and yellows of the previous season's oak litter. Searches were undertaken during the flowering season when colonies could be readily located. The precise ecological requirements of this species are difficult to ascertain; however it is suspected that it thrives in the dappled shade of open deciduous woodland. All the extant populations (except Yongdong-gun) are subject to intensive site management or have been translocated (e.g., Buan-gun) (Kim and Maunder 1998).

The ecology of the species requires study; there is little evidence of seedling recruitment in wild populations, perhaps as a result of over-shading and competition. In addition, preliminary studies of wild populations in Korea indicate that very little seed is produced. Observations of cultivated material suggest that the species is self incompatible, requiring pollination between differing genotypes to ensure successful seed-set. It is suspected that the wild populations are largely clonal colonies, hence there will be little production of seed (Kim and Maunder 1998).

Studies on heterostyly-incompatibility of A. distichum (Yoo et al. 1976) revealed that legitimate pollination (pin x thrum; 30.8% fruit set) gains more fruit than illegitimate pollination (pin x pin or thrum x thrum; 1.3%). With this breeding system, pollinator limitation could reduce fitness of A. distichum.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Abeliophyllum disticum is an attractive plant and flowers early. As a consequence, it has been collected for a long time. It is protected as a rare plant by law in South Korea, so collecting from wild is illegal. "Cultivated" individuals supplied by private botanical gardens are often collected illegally or/and without collection and monitoring data.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Abeliophyllum distichum is under pressure from numerous threats especially trampling, ruthless collection, and destruction of its habitats which also change the physiochemical variables of the soil, and microclimatic conditions in the sites.

The species is also threatened by loss and degradation of habitat mainly due to infrastructure development, management activities, recreation activities by direct (e.g., destruction of plants) and indirect effects (e.g., alteration of habitat), and competition from other plants which appear to have a negative influence on population size.

Based on population genetic studies (Chung 1999a,b; Kang et al. 2000), although A. distichum maintained relatively high genetic diversity probably due to floral heteromorphism and preferred outcrossing, their genetic variation, where small effective population size and genetic drift are of utmost importance, was lower than the other outbreeding plants.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Chang et al. (2005) assessed A. distichum as Critically Endangered (CR B1abc;D) for five subpopulations in South Korea. Lee (2009) also assessed this species as Critically Endangered (CR B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv)+B1abc(i,ii,iii,iv);C2ab(i,ii)) without providing justification or data. The Korean Ministry of Environment (2012) assessed this species as Vulnerable (VU B12ab(iii,v)) without providing scientific data or justification. The species has been listed as priority species on the national Endangered species list by the Ministry of Environment since 2005. In 2012, the Korean Ministry of Environment legislated this species as a 2nd grade of the national Endangered species (Kim et al. 2011).

The following actions are recommended to protect A. disticum:
  • Species based management and conservation is essential to ensure to protect the remaining limited number of individuals.
  • Initiate long term community based conservation to protect the habitat and species.
  • Stop the land changes and destructions by involving the forest department and local NGOs to develop a conservation action plan for this orchid and to start a feasibility assessment.
  • Protection of the habitat, especially from the ruthless collection, trampling.
  • Monitoring programs are needed to track the status of existing populations with respect to ongoing management practices.
  • Land protection and habitat diffuse management can be implemented to conserve habitat near or between occurrences.
  • Raise public awareness.
  • Protection of the living individuals of the species through legislation and legal protection which ban the species not to be picked or dug up.
  • Ex-situ conservation: artificial propagation, re-introduction, seed collections.
  • Monitoring and surveillance of the existing populations and sites.
  • Estimate the population size and study their dynamics.

Citation: Son, S.-W., Kim, Y.-S. & Kim, H. 2016. Abeliophyllum distichum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T13188339A13189399. . Downloaded on 20 February 2017.
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