Picea farreri C.N.Page & Rushforth

Pinaceae

Found in southern China and Myanmar where there are very few locations remaining due to logging

Associated Names:

Farrer's spruce

Distribution

China. W Yunnan (Gaoligong Shan, Salween River); Myanmar [Burma] (Fen Shui Ling [valley & pass]). The distribution of this species along the border between Myanmar and China is incompletely known. On the Fen Shui Ling pass between Burma and China it occurs on the west side at circa 2400–2700 metres above sea-level on calcareous soils. Sub-populations in China are reported as small and scattered along the range between China and Myanmar north of Tengchong.

Habitat and Ecology

In its type locality, this species occurs in the mountains at elevations between 2400–2700 metres above sea-level. on limestone. The climate is cool and wet, with heavy monsoon rains. It forms small stands of pure spruce in usually open forest, with undergrowth of bamboo and juniper. A little higher occur Larix sp., Pinus cf. armandii and Tsuga dumosa, but at lower elevations broad-leaved rainforest prevails, adding to the ecological isolation of Picea farreri (Page & Rushforth, 1980).

Human Uses

Farrer's Spruce may be used locally for construction timber. Reginald Farrer introduced its seed to England, where it was planted in several arboreta and private parks. The resulting trees were believed to have been lost until a tree at Exbury Gardens in Hampshire, England was identified in 1979 by Chris Page and Keith Rushforth as having grown from seed under Farrer's collection number 1435, the same as the holotype specimen at the Herbarium of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (E). New plants were introduced in Scotland from sources in Yunnan, China recently, but this species remains extremely rare in cultivation.

Conservation Status

Global status

Vulnerable D2

Global rationale

The type population on the Fen Shui Ling was described as small in both 1920 and 1937 and appears restricted to limestone at low elevation. Information is not available about the size or status of sub-populations in adjacent China but it appears likely that they are small. There has been extensive logging in this area but its impact on this species is uncertain. In the absence of better information, Picea farreri is conservatively assessed as Vulnerable under D2.

Global threats

This very rare and localized spruce was, until quite recently, only known from a high mountain valley in Myanmar [Burma] leading up to a pass crossing into the Shweli (Salween) drainage north of Tengchong, in Yunnan, China. It was then also found on the Chinese side of the border, so now two or perhaps three sub-populations are known to exist. In many parts of the mountain range forming the border extensive logging occurred on the Chinese side prior to the introduction of a logging ban in 1997. Conifers were one of the main trees exploited but the impact on this species is uncertain due to our poor knowledge of its distribution in this area.The status of the Myanmar population(s) is also uncertain although it is known that there has been extensive logging on that side of the border. Again, the impact of logging remains uncertain as no foreign botanists have visited this remote valley since the 1930s.

Conservation Actions

It is likely that some subpopulations/ stands occur with in the Gaoligong Shan protected areas. Further field work on both sides of the border are required to establish its distribution, population size and status.