The taxonomy of this variable species is controversial; several varieties have been described. The IUCN Redlist recognises four: var. wilsonii (a prostrate shrub and the most common and widespread form), var. pingii (a much rarer tree form), var. miehii (another prostrate form only known from a locality in the upper Zangbo River basin and var. chengii (only known from the type specimen collected in 1937 from near Zhongdian). The last two varieties are very poorly known and have been assesed as Data Deficient. Several other varieties have been described and one, var. carinata has been recognised as a distinct species based on differences in leaf oils and DNA profiles (Adams 2000, 2014)
An important source of firewood at high elevations. Its slow growth, sensitivity to precipitation also make it useful for dendroclimatology (Liang et al. 2012).