Basionym : Thuja pensilis Staunt.
Synonym : Glyptostrobus heterophyllus (Brongn.) Endl.
Common name : Chinese Water Pine (Shui song)
Habitat and ecology
Low lying wet areas, stream sides; Vietnam and Laos 500-700m; China, near sea level.
|Diagnostic characters : ||Large conifer, often buttressed and with pneumatophores. Leaves dimorphic, needle-like on juvenile and short deciduous shoots, scale-like on long branchlets and fertile shoots. Unisexual on the same tree, cones small. Seeds with a thin wing.|
|Habit : ||Large, semi-deciduous tree, often with swollen or buttressed base and pneumatophores, up to 25m, dbh to 1m.|
|Trunk & bark : ||Trunk straight, single stemmed, usually with conical crown (spreading in older trees); bark longitudinally fissured, peeling in irrregular strips, brown or reddish; inner bark red-pink.|
|Branches and branchlets or twigs : ||Main branches long and slender, upper branches ascending, foliage clustered at ends of branches; foliage branches either long and persistent or short and deciduous.|
|Exudates : ||Not known.|
|Leaves : ||Two types of leaves can be present, all alternate distichous or helically arranged. |
Scale-like leaves on long branchlets and fertile shoots, decurrent and imbricate with pronounced abaxial keel, stomata in rows on either side of keel.
Needle-like leaves on short deciduous shoots either helically arranged, linear and decurrent or falcate and radially spreading.
|Inflorescences or flowers : ||Monoecious; female cones solitary , terminal of very short branchlets; male cones solitary and terminal, 3-5mm long.|
|Fruits : ||Cone pyrifom to obovate, 20-25 scales with tooth-like lobes on apical edge; brown at maturity.|
|Seeds : ||Seed oblong, flattened, 5-7mm with single thin wing.|
South East China (mainly cultivated), Vietnam (2 localities), Laos (Khammouan).
Genus has a long fossil history (ca 65 my) and was a major component of coal forming swamp forests in many parts of the northern hemisphere. Now, only one species - probably no natural populations in China; less than 250 trees in Vietnam; full distribution in Laos unknown. Currently listed as globally endangered.
China - timber from naturally fallen trees is used for boat building and bridge construction as it is water resistant. Also planted on canal banks for stabilisation; has a strong feng shui association; often planted to bring good luck.
Vietnam - locally used for construction and craft.
Laos - no known use.
Specimens studied :
BT 513, VL 1122 (Herbarium of Faculty of Sciences-NUoL, NHN-Leiden and CIRAD-Montpellier), Coffman 1, 2, 6, 7 (Herbarium of Royal Botanical Garden, Edingburgh, Scotland, UK).
Nguyen Tien Hiep, Phan Ke Loc, Nguyen Duc To Luu, P.I. Thomas, A. Farjon, L. Averyanov & J. Regalado Jr. 2004. Vietnam Conifers: Conservation Status Review 2004. Fauna & Flora International, Vietnam Programme, Hanoi.
Nguyen Duc To Luu & P. Thomas. 2004. Cay La Kim Viet Nam (Conifers of Vietnam: an illustrated field guide). World Publishing House, Hanoi. 121 pp. (in Vietnamese and English).
Farjon A. 2005. A monograph of the Cupressaceae and Sciadopityaceae. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, UK.
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