Native Plants of Taiwan
Taiwan is a subtropical island south of Japan’s Ryuku Islands. Taiwan was once called Isla Formosa, or “beautiful island,” by Portuguese invaders because of its thick, lush native forests. Although population growth has reduced these forests on the coastal plains to a few areas of national parks, many of the native plants still thrive in the mountains and foothills of the island.
Acanthephippium Striatum Lindley
Taiwan has many native orchids. Because of its climate, orchids grow very well. The Acanthephippium Striatum Lind. is a native orchid that grows at higher elevations in Taiwan. Between 2,000 and 6,500 feet, this orchid grows in the lush alpine rain forests under a protective canopy. This species of orchid flowers in the spring and summer on a 1- to 1-1/2-inch stem called an inflorescence. It produces between two and five fragrant white flowers with purple stripes.
Abies Kawakamii (Hayata) Ito
The Abies Kawakamii (Hayata) Ito is sometimes called the Kawakami fir or the Taiwan fir. This tree grows in a shrub-like or pyramid shape. This tree has survived well because it grows primarily between 9,500 feet and 13,000 feet in elevation. These parts of the island are very sparsely populated. The Taiwan fir grows to between 30 and 120 feet tall and can have a trunk as wide as 4 feet in diameter. This tree is often found in Shei-pa, Taroko and Yushan national parks.
Acer Kawakamii Koidzumi
The Acer Kawakamii Koidzumi is a maple tree native to Taiwan and Japan. The leaves of this tree are less serrated than on many maple trees. The leaves do not have the deep lobes often associated with maples and are a rounded heart shape. The leaves of this tree are paper-like and between 1 and 2 1/2 inches long. The Acer Kawakamii Koidzumi grows to between 60 and 70 feet tall. The tree is usually found between 600 feet and 7,000 feet in elevation. You can find many of these trees in Yang Min Mountain National Park in the Taipei area.
Acacia Confusa Merr.
The Acacia Confusa Merr. is found below 1,600 feet in Taiwan. This thorny shrub features compound leaves made of 10 to 12 smaller leaflets. The Acacia Confusa Merr. grows to around 15 feet tall. Half inch flowers grow in clusters of two or three fragrant yellow clusters. The flowers produce curved seedpods between 3 and 4 inches long that are flat and contain a sweet pulp.