Monday, April 17, 2017

Taiwan 3. Plants without flowers

Crypsinus hastatus is a small fern found growing
on the trunks and branches of trees in the cool
The dominant conifer in Taiwan is a member of the
cypress family,  Chamecyparis obtusa var formosana.  
It might be thought of as "Taiwan's redwood." Historically.
 it was valued for construction of palaces and temples, 
both here and in Japan.  The massive, old-growth trees are 
mostly gone, but new plantations abound. 

The mountains of Taiwan are typically rainy and cool, ideal places for non-flowering plants such as mosses, liverworts, club mosses, ferns, and gymnosperms.  Though lacking the colors of flowering plants and often overlooked, such plants provide varied and fascinating vegetative structures essential to the mountain vegetation. Unfortunately, they are more difficult to identify, usually requiring attention to details that can only be seen under a microscope, and this being a casual trip, I did not have the tools or the permits to collect specimens for later study.  Be that as it may, I found a decent resource online, the Flora of Taiwan, which has helped me narrow down the choices.  So ID's on most of these are educated guesses, and I look forward to corrections from people who know.
The stump of an ancient Taiwan cypress tree provides a home for numerous
mosses, club mosses and ferns at Alishan Park.

More than a dozen species of the club moss genus, Selaginella, live in Taiwan.
This one appears to be S. nipponica or S. boninensis.  Club mosses are vascular
plants, unlike true mosses.

Selaginella doederleinii has more flattened, fern-like shoots.
Large, thallose liverworts are abundant in Taiwan.
A Marchantia-like liverwort, sporting gemmae cups, peeks out from a mat of unidentified moss.

Liverworts sometimes form continuous mats along moist, rocky hillsides.
A distant relative of Selaginella, Lycopodium cernuum, is widespread in the world, occuring here in the mountains of Taiwan.
An unidentified fern hangs from rocky crevasses.

A moss with an interesting palmate growth form.

One of five species of Alsophila native to Taiwan

A bird's-nest fern, Asplenium - one of dozens in Taiwan

Another fern decorates a rocky wall. ID anyone?