Diversity of the Flora of Fan Si Pan, the Highest Mountain in Vietnam
The highest mountain in Vietnam is Fan Si Pan, located in the northern region near the Chinese border. It reaches an elevation of 3143m and is home to a rich abundance of flora, containing a mixture of subtropical and temperature components.
The mountainous range runs along the Red River from a northwest to southeast direction, winding itself into Yunnan Province in China to the Himalayan range further on. Ancient granite and rocks og gneiss make up the mountain. The average temperature is roughly 15 degrees, with a range of minus 3 and 20 degrees. The coldest months are in December and January.
Researchers studied the flora of the Fan Si Pan and categorised them into the Brummit (1992) system. There were 1750 species that belong to 680 genera in 210 families of seven divisions. The report showed that only 43 percent of the flora on Fan Si Pan was represented. The most significant flora in well known families include the Orchidaceae (36 genera and 59 species), Ericacacea (6 genera and 58 species), Poaceae (30 genera and 47 species) and Cyperaceae (6 genera and 42 species).
There are many examples of rich flora that have a large number of taxa. Reports show that in only 26 general (representing 3.8 percent of the 680 known genera in the region), the 388 species make up only 22 percent of the flora. Experts have suggested that this means the local conditions “have selectively encouraged diversification in several genera”.
There were widespread forest genera on Fan Si Pan. These trees had large trunks and included Beilschiedia, Phoebe, Machilus (Lauraceae), Eberhardtia (Sapotaceae), Castanopsis, Lithocarpus (Fagaceae), Schima (Theaceae), Altingia (Hamamelidacae) and Fokienia (Cupressaceae). Vines are common but woody litanas are mostly absent.
Apart from mosses, which are abundant on Fan Si Pan, the most common epiphytes found in the flora are in the following families – Acanthacae; Staurogyne petelotti R. Ben; Ericacacae: including Rhododendron poilanei Dop, Vaccinium poilanei Dop, Gesneriaceae: Lysionotus petelotti Pell., Lysionotus spp., Dendrobium spp., and Aerides spp. “Distinctive from other typically tropical floaras are epiphytic species in the Ericacaea, Acanthacaea, and Gesnericeae”.
Research into the flora shows that it has high endemism, up to 30 percent. It also shows that the flora supports subtropical, tropical and temperate elements. The flora on Fan Si Pan also shows that it supports the presence of primitive vegetation that has been around for an extremely long time.
Nguyen, Nghia Thin & Harder, Daniel K. (1996) Diversity of the Flora of Fan Si Pan, the Highest Mountain in Vietnam, Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden Press.