Cephalotaxus latifolia W.C.Cheng & L.K.Fu ex L.K.Fu & R.R.Mill

Taxaceae

A difficult to identify species that is likely to be widespread in China. Past exploitation for medicinal use and deforestation have resulted in an an assessment of Near Threatened.

Description

Taxonomic Notes

The status of this species has been disputed by some authors, who united it with C. sinensis or C. harringtonii. The latter species commonly has leaves terminating in a relatively long cusp (as in C. sinensis), while leaves of C. latifolia have an abruptly narrowed apex with a short cusp being less than 0.5 mm long. However, variants tending towards either form of leaf apex occur in C. harringtonii as well as C. latifolia, making the distinction less reliable. A comprehensive revision that would include molecular evidence is much needed. This investigation should, where possible, refrain from sampling among cultivated plants, as their identity or provenance can be muddled to start with.

Distribution

Widely distributed in south-central and southern China (Chongqing, northwestern Fujian, northern Guangdong, northeastern Guangxi, southeastern Guizhou, southwestern Hubei, Hunan, and western Jiangxi).

No data are available on the actual population size or trends, in part due to difficulties with field identification. A past decline of up to 30% is suspected due to logging, general deforestation and probable exploitation for medicinal use.

Habitat and Ecology

Cephalotaxus latifolia occurs in mountainous areas at altitudes between 900 and 2,400 m a.s.l. It grows in secondary vegetation usually forming a shrub. It may well be more common than previously thought; recent inventories in the new Chongqing Municipality (an administrative split from Sichuan Province) have found it there in several new locations

Human Uses

Although no uses have been recorded of this species, its uses will probably be similar to other species of its genus, including use of the wood for fuel and timber, and for traditional medicine.

Conservation Status

Global Status and Rationale

Near Threatened (VU A2cd)

This taxon has only been recognized as a distinct species since 1999. Prior to this it was confused in the field by investigators with C. sinensis or other taxa. It is suspected that there has been some decline due to deforestation, logging and probably exploitation for medicinal use. The decline may be approaching the 30% threshold for Vulnerable under criterion A2 and it is therefore flagged as Near Threatened.

Global Threats

This species is likely to have undergone some reduction following conversion of its habitat for other uses. It may also have been exploited for its medicinal value as are other members of the genus.

Conservation Actions

It is uncertain if this species occurs in any protected areas. Further field work and surveys are required.