Pseudolarix amabilis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Pinaceae

Scientific Name: Pseudolarix amabilis (J.Nelson) Rehd.
Common Name(s):
English Chinese Golden Larch
Larix amabilis J.Nelson
Taxonomic Source(s): Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.
Taxonomic Notes: The genus is monospecific.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2010-12-15
Assessor(s): Yang, Y. & Christian, T.
Reviewer(s): Farjon, A. & Thomas, P.

Pseudolarix amabilis has a fairly restricted range and it is estimated that the area of occupancy is under 2,000 km² and may even be less than 500 km², in which case it would qualify for Endangered. The population is severely fragmented and there is continuing decline in the quality of the habitat and number of mature individuals. Habitat is being cleared for agricultural expansion, there would have been logging in the past, and the lack of regeneration (observed in one famous site) does not bode well for the future of this species. A thorough field survey of this species is required and with better information it may be that it should qualify for a more threatened category than current information indicates.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Endemic to China: recorded from the lower Chang Jiang (Yangtse) valley (Anhui, Hunan, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Zhejiang). The true geographic range of this species is difficult to ascertain. In Atlas of the Gymnosperms of China (Ying et al. 2004), a map with dots (based on herbarium specimen data from Chinese herbaria) is produced which gives a much wider range than accepted for the IUCN Redlist. A map given in China Plant Red Data Book 1 (Fu and Jin 1992) is similarly optimistic. A check by Dr Xiang Qiao-ping in the Beijing Herbarium (PE) revealed that most of these specimens were collected from planted trees or trees in villages and towns (e.g. near temples) that did not occur in the wild. This problem is acknowledged in Flora of China 4 (1999). Wang (1961) indicates that this tree has its natural habitat in northern Zhejiang.
Countries occurrence:
China (Fujian, Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:1999
Lower elevation limit (metres):180
Upper elevation limit (metres):1000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:On Tianmu Shan, fewer than 100 mature individuals were seen and there were no signs of any recruitment (T. Christian pers. obs. 2010). it seems that the population is likely to be small and restricted to small areas.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Pseudolarix amabilis is a component of the mixed mesophytic, partly evergreen forest, very rich in tree species (Wang 1961). Its altitudinal range is from 180 m to 1,000 m a.s.l., so it is a component of lowland forest in a warm temperate, humid climate which can experience occasional cold winter frost at the higher altitude. This species grows on a variety of soils derived from acidic rock; it does not occur on limestone. Several localities where P. amabilis still occurs in the wild are likely to have been altered by man and will support secondary forest, indicated by the presence of Cunninghamia lanceolata and Pinus spp.; some of these trees may have been planted in reforestation projects nearby. On the other hand, P. amabilis is a light demanding tree and perhaps not a constituent of a late phase in the succession, which tends to angiosperm (broad-leaved) dominance. Undisturbed primary forest that contains P. amabilis is now extremely rare and, if it still exists, should be subjected to detailed ecological study.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):50

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species has been planted in arboreta and parks in many countries, providing ample material for study. Herbarium specimens from (wild) locations in China are very rare, therefore the majority of material studied has come from European arboreta. Due to its rarity and slow growth the value as a timber tree of this conifer is limited to local use, primarily for boat building, wooden foot bridges, and furniture. The Chinese Golden Larch has been in cultivation in Europe since the early 1860s when it was first described as a species of larch in England, based on small plants grown from seed and from seedlings transported by Robert Fortune from China to England in a Wardian case. It is a desirable and successful tree in cultivation, which has been responsible for its wide 'distribution' in China probably centuries before it came to Europe. It is now present in most collections of planted conifers in the temperate climate regions of the world, especially in the northern hemisphere, but it remains relatively uncommon in the trade, perhaps because it is difficult to propagate and slow growing. It is mostly used as a specimen tree in large gardens and parks in W Europe and the eastern USA. A few dwarfed forms have been selected and are grown as cultivars in Chinese and Japanese style gardens. It has also been used on a limited scale for afforestation in China, e.g. on Mogan Shan, Zhejiang Province.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The natural distribution of this species is based upon the populations in and around Zhejiang and two localities in southern Anhui and northern Jiangxi and (tentatively) one in Hunan; all other herbarium based localities are believed to be planted or introduced and here and there perhaps naturalized; they are excluded from the assessment. This species is very rare in the wild and occurs in a few remnants of primary forest on isolated mountains. Most locations are not within protected areas and loss of habitat is still continuing in this densely populated part of China. A detailed survey of existing truly natural populations occurring in primary mixed forest to determine more exactly the number of remaining mature trees, as well as the number of populations and their localities, is a first and necessary step to conservation action. This should next lead to the establishment of protected areas including the major sites and populations. The habitat at Tianmu Shan is being altered by the invasion of Cryptomeria japonica which was planted in the area and has now become naturalized.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Tianmu Shan is a protected area, and it probably occurs in other protected areas. There is also a ban on logging in place. Further research is required on the range of this species, the population size and trends and the nature and impact of any threats.

Citation: Yang, Y. & Christian, T. 2013. Pseudolarix amabilis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T34196A2850347. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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