Taiwania cryptomeroides – Taxodiaceae

24 August 2011

(Rhododendron Hill)

One of my favourite plants – I love the weeping blue foliage – just as arresting in winter as it is in summer. This plant is on the 2000 Red List and is currently described as ‘vulnerable’. But two million years ago, this plant was distributed widely across Eurasia and North America. Today it is found in only a few places in Southern China, (mainly Yunnan), Taiwan and North Vietnam. One of the largest populations of around 100 trees is found in North Vietnam, where the wood is prized because of its durability to make coffins. It is threatened by loggers and forest fires. But there is hope. In 2002, a huge community of some 10,000 individuals was discovered in South Taiwan in an inaccessible mountain region, so I hope this stunning plant will be still found in the wild for many years.

Taiwania loves woodland edges or the shelter of a light canopy. It thrives in cool, leafy, water retentive soils which are fundamentally well drained. The better specimens enjoy some shade in a day, but it will grow in full sun. Taiwania is hardy in this part of Ireland and will survive unscathed in prolonged temperatures of -10oC.

We are trying to propagate this tree. Our specimen to date, has not set seed, (which is the easiest method), but we are trying cuttings. The ICCP, the International Conifer Conservation Programme have widely disseminated this tree in Ireland – I bought one for €15 from Future Forests down in west Cork. Watch out though, you must protect young trees from slugs and snails – they like nothing better than to chew the tender, juicy leader.

NP

Click here to learn more about the Taiwania cryptomeroides

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