Taiwania Genus (Chinese coffin tree)

1 Species

Taiwania (Taiwania cryptomerioides) is a large coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae, formerly listed in the segregate family Taxodiaceae. It is native to eastern Asia, growing in the mountains of central Taiwan, and locally in southwest China and adjoining Myanmar and northern Vietnam. It is endangered by illegal logging for its valuable wood in many areas. It is very likely that the range was more extensive in the past before extensive felling for the wood.

It is one of the largest tree species in Asia, reported grow to heights of 250 feet (80 m) tall and with a trunk up to 12 feet (4 m) in diameter above buttressed base. The leaves are needle- or awl-like and measure 0.32 to 0.6 inch (8 – 15 mm) long on young trees up to about 100 years old, then gradually becoming more scale-like, 0.12 to 0.28 inch (3 – 7 mm) long, on mature trees. The seed cones are small, measuring 0.6 to 1 inch (15 – 25 mm) long, with about 15 to 30 thin, fragile cones scales, each scale with two seeds.

The populations in mainland Asia are treated as a distinct species Taiwania flousiana by some botanists, but the claimed differences between these and the Taiwanese population are not consistent when a number of specimens from each area are compared.

The genus is named after the island of Taiwan, from where it first became known to the botanical community in 1910.

The wood is soft, but durable and attractively spicy scented, and was in very high demand in the past, particularly for temple building and coffins. The rarity of the tree and its slow growth in plantations means legal supplies are now very scarce; the species has legal protection in China and Taiwan.

Attribution from: Wikipedia