Larix griffithii var speciosa (W.C.Cheng & Y.W.Law) Farjon

Pinaceae

Only known from a limited area of SW China where logging has had some impact. Currently it is assessed as Near Threatened. Its presence in NE Myanmar has not yet been confirmed.

Description

Taxonomic notes

This variety is recognised as a distinct species in the Flora of China.

Distribution

Recorded from China: NW Yunnan, SE Xizang (Tibetan Himalaya). According to the recent Chinese accounts, this variety, along with the typical variety, occurs on the Tibetan side of the Himalayan watershed. Unfortunately, the disputed border area between India and China, as well as extreme N Myanmar [Burma], have long not been visited by botanists making collections, so we do not know whether this variety occurs in valleys draining to the south. In NW Yunnan it is known from the western slopes of the Gaoligong Mountains. Its presence in NE Myanmar is currently unconfirmed but highly likely. No reasonable estimates are available for its extent of occurrence or its area of occupancy.

Habitat and Ecology

This taxon occurs at high altitudes between 2,600 m and 4,000 m a.s.l. in high mountains, mainly on the dryer side of the monsoon-influenced Himalayas and adjacent ranges in NW Yunnan. In the Gaoligong Mountains in may occur in mixed conifer forests or as patchy monotypic stands at the upper end of its altitudinal range.

Human Uses

Locally used for construction.

Conservation Status

Global Status and Rationale

Near Threatened (VU A2cd)

The China Plant Specialist Group assessed this taxon as nationally Vulnerable under criterion A1c. This implies a rate of reduction of more than 50% over the past 100 years, and that this has now stopped (presumably due to the governmental ban on logging imposed recently). As it is very likely that this variety has a wider distribution than is currently known, and is likely to occur in several undeveloped areas, the global reduction is likely to be less than that used for the national assessment: as such it is better to flag this variety as Near Threatened (it almost qualifies for listing under criterion A2cd).

Global Threats

Past logging has had some inmpact.

Conservation Actions

Recorded from one protected area in NW Yunnan in the Gaoligong Mountains.