Southeastern Chinese Evergreen Broadleaf Forest

As exemplified in the Dinghushan Biosphere Reserve near Zhaoqing City in Guangdong province these forests have an extremely complex vertical structure with up to five layers, four of which are tree layers. The canopy is usually continuous with up to 90% cover and can reach heights of over 20 m, but this is often exceeded by various sun-loving, emergent species such as Canarium album, Castanopsis chinensis, Engelhartdia roxbughiana, Schima superba and Tsoongiodendron odorum. Four of these, C. album, C. chinensis, S. superba and T. odorum, also dominate the canopy. The sub-canopy or second layer, which ranges from 14-20 m in height, is largely composed of shade tolerant species of Lauraceae and Myrtaceae such as Acmena acuminatissima, Cryptocarya chinensis and C. conocinna. The third layer ranging from 9-14 m in height is mostly composed of A. acuminatissima, C. concinna, Gironniera subaequalis and the endemic Syzygium rehderianum (Myrtaceae). At heights ranging from 4-9 m the fourth layer mainly includes the shade tolerant Aporosa yunnanensis, which is also the most abundant tree in these forests. Most of the trees in all four layers are evergreen. The few deciduous species include Diospyros eriantha, Homalium cochinchinense and the endemic Ilex chapaensis (Aquifoliaceae). Shrubs and saplings dominate the fifth layer. However, the dense canopy prevents the development of a rich herbaceous ground layer except where gaps are created by fallen trees. Lianas, on the other hand, are well represented. Among the trees the tropical families Rubiaceae, Euphorbiaceae and Myrsinaceae dominate but the subtropical family Lauraceae is also well represented. Overall 39 tree species covering 26 families have been recorded in a study area but this was considered depauperate compared to tropical forests in Malaysia where as many as 276 species in 48 families have been recorded in a similar sized study plots. In total, 1843 higher plants where recorded in the Dinghushan study area.

Southeastern Chinese Fung Shui Lowland Forest (Hong Kong)

Fung Shui (literally meaning ‘wind and water’) forests owe their existence and protection to closely associated villages in accordance with ancient tradition and these form the nearest representation of natural forests in Hong Kong. They typically have a multi-layered canopy ranging from 15-25 m with an upper layer usually dominated by species such as Endospermum chinense, Pygeum topengii and Schima superba. At sub-canopy level (10-15 m) the main species include Aquilaria sinensis, Sarcosperma laurinum, Sterculia rubra and the endemic Machilus chekiangensis (Lauraceae). Among the trees large woody lianas are common and include Ampelopsis cantoniensis and Gnetum montanum. The commonest under story species are Ardisia quinquegone, Psychotria asiatica (wild coffee), P. rubra and species of Lasianthus and Memecylon. At ground level there is a variety of ferns and herbaceous flowering plants. However, in general these forests have usually been enriched with additional species through human intervention and may include introduced species such as Aquilaria sinensis, Cinnamomum comphora and fruit trees like Euphorbia longan, Litchi chinensis and Syzygium jambos.


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