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The review of native conifers of Vietnam 2017

Professor Phan Ke Loc from the Botany Department of Hanoi University of Science, Vietnam National University and his colleagues published a review of conifers native to Vietnam in The American Journal of Botany, (Volume 49, Issue 5)

This new review includes 33 species, 2 subspecies and 5 varieties of native conifers belonging to 5 families and 19 genera from Vietnam. The largest family is Pinaceae (5 genera, 13 species). Next are Cupressaceae (7 genera, 7 species), Podocarpaceae (4 genera, 7 species), Taxaceae (2 genera, 5 species) and Cephalotaxaceae (1 genus and species).

Thirty taxa, representing 90% of the total were assessed as nationally threatened. Among them three were deemed Critically Endangered (Cupressus tonkinensis, Glyptostrobus pensilis, Xanthocyparis vietnamensis), eight were classified as Endangered (Abies delavayi subsp. fansipanensis, Calocedrus macrolepis var. macrolepis, Cunninghamia lanceolata var. konishii, Fokienia hodginsii, Keteleeria davidiana, Pinus armandii subsp. xuanhaensis, P. henryi, Taxus wallichiana) and 19 recorded as Vulnerable.

Data on morphology, ecology, biology and habitat for accepted taxa were updated on the basis of the new collections as part of the study.

Notwithstanding the revised information discussed here, it is likely that further changes to the conifer flora of Vietnam will occur in the future because many mountain regions remain poorly explored botanically, many existing collections lack the fertile parts that are needed for positive identifications, and there exist a number of species-groups that require further critical taxonomic study. These groups include the following: Keteleeria davidiana and Keteleeria evelyniana, Nageia fleuryi and Nageia nagi, Taxus chinensis and Taxus wallichiana, Tsuga chinensis and Tsuga dumosa, Podocarpus annamiensis and Podocarpus neriifolius, Pinus dalatensis and Pinus anemophila, Pinus kwangtungensis and Pinus wangii. Podocarpus neriifolius var. annamiensis (N.E. Gray) L.K. Phan, comb. et stat. nov. was also proposed.

The review recorded Pinus armandii subsp.xuanhaensis as a new conifer observed in Vietnam. Pinus armandii subsp.xuanhaensis was discovered and collected samples in Xuan Nha Nature Reserve (Son La province) by the research team of People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) in the implementation of the project: Conservation and development conifer tree species in Xuan Nha Nature Reservesupported by the Rufford Small Grants. According to field survey results of PanNature’s team, this species currently has a population of about 200 trees, distributes in/covers an area of about 80 km2. Together with Prof. Phan Ke Loc, PanNature’s research team has collected, described, classified and announced this unique new conifer of Vietnam.

After two years of project implementation, PanNature’s team not only discovered and announced the new conifer species but also recorded the presence of two conifers known as Cunninghamia konishii and Amentotaxus yunannensis in Pha Luong peak in Xuan Nha Nature Reserve. PanNature and its local partners also has established the Conifer Club in order to develop and implement conservation plans for the precious and rare coniferous tree species. PanNature’s field staff regularly support the local organizations and Xuan Nha Nature Reserve Management Board in propagation and planting of the conifer species. In addition, since June 2017, PanNature started a Field Research Fellowship Program for senior students, graduate students and fellows related to forestry, which aims to promote scientific research activities in Hang Kia – Pa Co and Xuan Nha Natural Reserves in order to create a database for conservation interventions.


A Pinus armandii subsp.xuanhaensis tree in the wild
Seeds of Pinus armandii subsp.xuanhaensis  after sowing 10 day (a), 25 day (b) và 45 day (c).
A sapling of Cunninghamia konishii tree in Pha Luong mountain
A single Amentotaxus yunannensis tree found in Pha Luong mountain

The Rufford Foundation also sponsored PanNature’s implementation of the project “Conservation of conifer tree species in Hoa Binh – Son La limestone corridor”, from October 2012 to October 2013. The project aimed to assess the conservation status of the coniferous species in the area and the threat level for each species. It then proposed solutions for conservation.

Using the data collected from fieldwork in conjunction with experimental research on propagation in nursery, PanNature’s research team developed A guidebook on conifers in the Mai Chau – Moc Chau mountainous areas in Hoa Binh and Son La provinces (October 2013) to provide the most up-to-date information for conifers (Pinopsida) in the mountainous flora of Hoa Binh – Son La (specifically Mai Chau and Moc Chau). Professor Phan Ke Loc said: “The booklet contains a lot of information and vivid illustrations from field research and in the nursery of the conifers in mountainous areas in the North West. This is the first time data on distribution sites, distribution areas, habitats and population reserves have been identified. It is a very useful book for conservationists …”.


Professor Phan Ke Loc in the workshop: Conservation of conifer tree species in Mai Chau – Moc Chau limestone corridor

Field trip into the forest

Podocarpus pilgeri in the wild

Pinus kwangtungensis in Hang Kia – Pa Co Nature Reserve (Hoa Binh province)
A Calocedrus macrolepis var. macrolepis tree in the wild
A Taxus wallichiana tree in the wild
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