Picea aurantiaca Mast.

Pinaceae

Has a restricted distribution in western Sichuan, China where the main threat has been historic logging. Current threats to the remaining subpopulations include fire and over-grazing

Associated Names:

Description

Picea aurantiaca is closely related to P. asperata Mast. and P. retroflexa Mast. These taxa have been variously treated as independent species or varieties of P. asperata (Schmidt-Vogt 1977). In Flora of China, Vol. 4: 28 (1999) and in Higher Plants of China, Vol. 3: 37 (Fu et al., 2000) P. aurantiaca is treated as a variety of P. asperata, while other (Chinese) works (e.g. Fu and Jin 1992; Farjon 1990, 1998, 2001) have maintained the species rank, sometimes with P. retroflexa as a variety of P. aurantiaca in which case the populations in Jiuzhaigou would be included in the overall species assessment. A re-examination of relevant collections and populations seems desirable; this should include work on DNA sequences, looking for markers which may help to distinguish species.

Distribution

China: W Sichuan (W of Kangding, from Simaqiao to Xinyulingong and Zheduo Shan and Zhonggu).

Described from a limited region SW of Kangding where it occurs as scattered trees on steep mountain slopes on forest margins. Age of trees to 300 years.

Habitat and Ecology

Picea aurantiaca is a subalpine species, occurring between 2600 to 3800 metres above sea-level. (–4000m Rehder & Wilson, 1914). It is mostly found on calcareous soils. The climate is cold and precipitation varies from high (no figures recorded) in the lower elevations of the SE of its range to only 500–700mm in the NW. It occurs in mixed coniferous forest, with e.g. Picea likiangensis var. rubescens and locally Abies squamata and Larix potaninii. Betula spp. are the common broad-leaved trees, while Pinus spp. occur mostly after disturbances and at the lower elevations.

Human Uses

A timber tree which may not be recognized as distinct from Picea asperata. It must be logged with this and other spruces and put to the same uses.

Conservation Status

Global status

Endangered A2cd

Global rationale

The limited areas of occurrence and occupancy (EOO and AOO) estimated for this species and the inferred decline from logging operations and extensive deforestation in the area justify the Red List category Endangered.

Global threats

The primary threat has been historic logging. Current threats include fire and over-grazing.

Conservation Actions

The Government of China has recently imposed a ban on logging in western China. Increasing the population by protecting seedlings trees from grazing to allow an increase in the population would assist.