Picea morrisonicola Hayata

Pinaceae

Endemic to the higher altitudes of central Taiwan where historic exploitation of old-growth forests for timber has reduced the population considerably. Climate change is a likely threat. It is the southernmost member of the genus.

Distribution

Taiwan (mainly at higher altitudes in the central mountains). The largest stands are in the Ta Ta Chia area in the central mountains, just north of the Tropic of Cancer.

Habitat and Ecology

Picea morrisonicola is a high montane species, occurring at elevations between 2300 to 3000m above sea-level on north-facing mountain slopes and in ravines. The soils are acid and podzolized. The climate is cold temperate, with a monsoon character and very wet: annual precipitation exceeds 4000mm. This spruce occurs in association with Abies kawakamii,Tsuga chinensis, Pseudotsuga sinensis, Pinus armandii and Juniperus squamata var. morrisonicola to the tree line; at lower elevations also with Chamaecyparis obtusa var. formosana, which can form pure stands below 2500 m, and broad-leaved trees, e.g. Quercus variabilis, Acer spp, and Betula spp. It does not appear to form large pure stands and is in fact often one of the less frequent conifer species in the mixed coniferous forests.

Human Uses

Taiwan spruce can attain large size and is a valuable timber tree, but it has been over-exploited in the past and is now relatively rare. The wood is used for construction, carpentry and furniture making.

Conservation Status

Global status and rationale

Vulnerable A2cd

There has been an historic reduction in its area of occupancy but it is unlikely that this has been sufficient to meet the threshold for the Endangered category, hence the species is listed as Vulnerable as the reduction is likely to have been between 30 and 49% over the past three generations (150 years).

Global threats

Exploitation of indigenous old growth forests for timber has reduced the area of occupancy (AOO) of this species considerably and the best stands of large trees are now largely restricted to protected areas. As a high altitude species it may be vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Conservation Actions

This species occurs in several protected areas, but also outside such reserves.