Included here is most of Japan including Honshu, Kyushu, the southwestern part of Hokkaido, and the smaller islands of Gotto-retto, Tanega, Tsushima and Yaku. The forests can be divided into cold temperate and warm temperate types.

Deciduous Forests with Fagus and Quercus

In the cool-temperate zone, endemic beech trees, Fagus crenata and F. japonica (Fagaceae), and Quercus crispula dominate the so-called oriental deciduous forests. Fagus japonica is mainly confined to the lower (or warmer) parts of the zone, so the two beeches rarely intermix. The composition of these woodlands also varies on an east - west gradient with those on the Pacific side differing from those on the Sea of Japan side. The endemic Abies homolepis (Pinaceae), for example, only occurs on the Pacific side. Other deciduous trees include endemics such as Acer japonicum (Aceraceae) and Tilia japonicum (Tiliaceae), while endemic shrubs include Camellia rusticana (Theaceae) and Magnolia salicifolia (Magnoliaceae). The undergrowth is largely composed of dwarf-bamboo including the endemic Sasa nipponica (Poaceae). Other rare and endemic ground layer species include Cerastium arvense var. ovata (Caryophyllaceae), Mitchella undulata (Rubiaceae), Hylotelephium tsugaruense (Crassulaceae), Poa ogamontana (Poaceae), Pyrola japonica (Pyrolaceae), Ranzania japonica (Berberidaceae), Shortia uniflora (Diapensiaceae), Silene aomoriensis (Caryophyllaceae) and many orchids such as Calanthe discolor, C. nipponica, Cypripedium yatabeanum, Gymnadenia fujisanensis and Tipularia japonica. Among the fern flora is the endemic Blechnum niponicum (Blechnaceae). An important sanctuary for these species is the Shirakami-sanchi Natural World Heritage site in northern Honshu. Where the soils are very moist or wet, as in certain valley woodland, the species composition may include endemic trees such as Aesculus turbinata (Hippocasttanaceae), Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Cercidiphyllaceae) and Euptelea polyandra (Trochodendraceae). However, in addition to broad-leaved trees, the cool temperate zone includes stands dominated by various endemic conifers such as Chamaecyparis obtuse, Cryptomeria japonica and Thujopsis dolabrata (Cupressaceae).

Evergreen Forests with Quercus and Castanopsis

In warm-temperate, evergreen zone forests the principal oak species are Quercus acuta, Q. gilva, Q. glauca, Q. myrsinaefolia, Q. salicina and Q. sessilifolia. These forests are highly stratified with at least two or three tree layers and a shrub layer. Endemic trees include Castanopsis cuspidata (Fagaceae)and Cinnamomum japonicum (Lauraceae)while amongst the endemic shrubs are Camellia japonica (Theaceae)and more locally Abeliophyllum distichum (Oleaceae). In some localities evergreen stands of coniferous trees occur including endemics such as Pinus thunbergii (Pinaceae) and Tsuga siebaldii (Pinaceae). Throughout the temperate zone there are also swamp forests with endemic trees like Alnus japonica (Betulaceae), Fraxinus mandshurica var. japonica (Oleaceae)and Salix sacchalinensis (Salicaceae). The shrub layer of these forests includes Rhamnus crenata and R. japonica while herb layer species are Carex angustinowiczii, C. rhynchophysa, Lysichiton camtschatense, and the ferns Osmunda cinnamomea var. fokiensis and Lastrea thelypteris.


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