Trees of Taiwan

Thinking long term about my future land here. There’ll be enough space to have a stand or two of trees. :palm_tree:

I honestly don’t know the names of the trees we have on the rock, save the obvious ones. I’m asking as I want to know what they’re good for, and how they fit into the ecosystem.

I’m up at a Buddhist retreat today near San Xia and saw these. Cedar?

And a big ass tree spider for you arachno-phreaks.


Found some interesting sites, but haven’t checked them out yet.

I’m looking for trees that are endangered or on the list of trees the government will actually pay people to grow out of a conservation fund or something like that. Mahogany, for example.'s%20Tree%20Researchers%20and%20Forestry%20Surveyors

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Take pics of what you got :slight_smile:

Generally speaking retreats are aesthetician, to some, but usually planted very poorly. The first pics you posted sum up poor forestry. But they are pretty for a very temporary time frame.

What are your actual goals?

When it comes to plant biota, Taiwan is top notch. Globally. A credit we don’t often see. But we are truly blessed with fantastic climate and diversity here!

Share you goals and your current situation (the land). You can have a wonderland in no time, easily here

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I don’t talk about fish that aren’t in the boat yet.

if I consider the land I am looking at now, I want some bushy trees or bushes on the perimeter to block wind, offer shade and privacy.

I want a fruit orchard, nothing special or industrial in scope, the normal stuff you see, mango, banana, coconut, guava, citrus, etc. Nothing at scale, more for home use.

I have read about conservation efforts the government has, which actually pays landowners to grow and keep endangered hardwoods (and maybe others, IDK, as I haven’t seen the website yet-- still hunting it down) mahogany, camphor, etc.

I totally agree. Anyone can grow palm trees and say ooh ahh tropical. I want something a bit better that brings in the birds and bats to eat the bugs and fill the air with song.

The variety here is really astounding and I’d like to be able to find stuff that compliments the whole and not plant random stuff that goes to war.

It’s a learning process!

I had explant give me a log of acacia once… they make good guitar wood but unfortunately I’m clueless in terms of sawing logs and I really botched the heck out of it. Board is all crooked simply because I didn’t have the right fixture for sawing it (and the thing weights like a ton). I was using a 26 inch bandsaw for the work but unfortunately, I think the log rocked back and forth during sawing to create a crap surface. They’re probably little more than firewood…

But acacia trees are all over the place in Taiwan and is a very sustainable source of good furniture wood. I just don’t have a kiln or the means to process lumber from a tree.

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Acacia confusa is a perennial tree native to South-East Asia. Some common names for it are acacia petit feuille, Ayangile, small Philippine acacia, Formosa acacia (Taiwan acacia), Philippine Wattle, and Formosan koa. It grows to a height of 15 m. The tree has become very common in many tropical Pacific areas, including Hawaii, where the species is considered invasive.[3]


The wood has a density of about 0.75 g/cm3.[4] In Taiwan, its wood was used to make support beams for underground mines.[citation needed] Acacia confusa is challenging to work and for this reason was traditionally burned as firewood or turned into charcoal in Taiwan. In later years it was exported to China to be made into wood flooring for the American market. At its height Taiwan exported more than 1,000 containers of Taiwan acacia to China. More recently it has been used domestically to produce high value wood products like musical instruments, furniture, and bathtubs.[5]

The wood is also converted to charcoal for family use. The plant is used in traditional medicine[6] and is available from herbal medicine shops in Taiwan, but there has been no clinical study to support its effectiveness.[citation needed]


Thanks. This wouldn’t be a terrible idea either. I like me a campfire.

This is the government site. Now to find the list of trees. Apparently there is also a list of critters that one can be paid to protect.

NEWS - News - Five More Species Added to Payments for Ecosystem Services to Achieve Healthy Farmland Ecosystems (

MOre on the critter list. NT60,000 per year for keeping turtles. kewl

The Forestry and Nature Conservation Agency (FANCA), Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), announced today (November 14th) that five additional protected species will be added to the Payments for Ecosystem Services list, following the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis ), grass owl (Tyto longimembris pithecops ), otter (Lutra lutra ), pheasant-tailed jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus ), and Formosan black bear (Ursus thibetanus formosanus ). These species include the farmland treefrog (Zhangixalus arvalis ), Russet sparrow (Passer cinnamomeus ), Asiatic banded water snake (Trimerodytes annularis ), yellow-margined box turtle (Cuora flavomarginata ), and yellow pond turtle (Mauremys mutica ). This is to encourage local farmers to manage their farmland using eco-friendly measures and to collectively safeguard agro-ecosystems.

FANCA announced the addition of five new conservation targets (farmland treefrog, Russet sparrow, Asiatic banded water snake, yellow-margined box turtle, and yellow pond turtle) to the Payments for Ecosystem Services today. The most significant difference compared to the previously listed species is that these species are not celebrity species well-known to the public. Instead, these are all amphibian, reptile and bird species that are also a part of the low-elevation mountain farmland ecosystem and are facing serious threats to their survival, but have seldom been given much attention. Due to changes in agricultural land use, land development, climate change, and habitat degradation, these species need to be protected by all people so that their habitats can continue to exist.

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My bad, thought you already had land and were looking to identify what’s there and plan accordingly. About how large a plot are you looking for?

Without too much detail, check out flora of Taiwan. A bit old, but those volumes are nearly as world renowned as the Taiwanese biodiversity itself!

Flora of taiwan


I think before picking species, a very pragmatic descript about precisely your plan would be easier. Then pick species that match. That’s how I go about it anyway. Cheaper to buy plants for a land than lands for a plant. Well, usually.

For example, despite new pruning methods, things like lychee don’t really do well pruned and eat up a lot of square meters with relatively little yield. But great shade trees, and if you like lychee…then it is a no brainer. Growing cherimoya is easy, as is Guava, but don’t expect gigantic fruits like in the market without some pruning and labor. Mangos, depending on variety, nearest notorious for dropping flower an dfruit, hence the massive amount of sprays. Etc etc. There are good varieties of each species available, more often than not.

If you have a serious list, we can all pick apart the downfalls and then make some pretty nice suggestions for what may work. Settled on any particular area of Taiwan yet?

You probably don’t want to plant acacia. For one, it’s insanely common. There won’t be payouts unless replanting in the mountains. They also hinder undergrowth naturally, not amazing for a garden. Great if you want a more barren floor under a shade tree. Expect 15 years for any meaningful canopy. Saplings are cheap, but I recommend against it. Their wood is used extensively in mushroom production here and as such chips are easily obtained if you want to enrich your soil a bit. Despite this species nitrogen content, more nitrogen should be added for composting, none for mulch. Not really a thing for charcoal anymore, worth more as a wood, then floor material then mushroom substrate. But acacia and Longan are the 2 main local woods you see at those chicken pot places.

I just wouldn’t grow it as a tree on land unless you like their soft feathery canopies after a couple decades. Probably better uses of space to be honest. They can be enjoyed nation wide easily enough. I find Hawaii use of diesel and herbicides to eradicate this species kind of ironic. Given their massive issues with extinctions there. When Koa goes bad! :crazy_face:

@Taiwan_Luthiers sorry to hear. Acacia milling is a learning curve, no doubt. Not to get too off topic, but you can turn warped cured wood into blanks for turning and sell online. Pen making is a fad. Small bowls etc etc. It’s not much, but more than firewood.

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I don’t have a lathe anymore, and the bandsaw and other machines I couldn’t sell is in Tainan.

I did try turning the acacia but I don’t think they are quite dry yet, because when I tried to saw one board they warped like crazy. I really need a kiln if I am to use them for anything at all.

I’m not sure when I’ll have a shop to deal with them again.

Local acacia for commercial use is either “cooked” or steamed if for laminates. But I think this is a bit off topic. My point was you could rip that wood into blanks easily enough on a band saw and just sell the raw blanks online to those that want to play around. That’s what I meant by, beats being firewood.

In a meme, I’m heading towards permaculture. The lot is the bare minimum, 756 ping.

I’ve also thought about tree farming, and did some googling to get some ideas. This PDF is very helpful for deciding what to grow at your elevation and gives useful information on how. Doesn’t exactly answer the question of what is supported by the government (have you found an official list yet?), and I wish there were leaf diagrams because I’m looking at land currently undeveloped (but young growth, mostly bamboo and broadleaf, probably nothing special there)

Seeds of the Economically Important Trees in Taiwan

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No but I’ve been busy. Just the critter list.

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Formosa cypress. Not sure if you’ll be able to grow that.

It’s Taiwan’s most precious tree. Grows in Alishan but currently endangered after mass logging by the Japanese and the KMT.

The Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, along with other imperial shrines and temples in Japan were built with Formosa cypress exploited from Taiwan during the colonial period.

It is termite and weather resistant, and is probably worth more than gold. Many of the old Japanese homes in Kaohsiung are made of this wood.

The PDF I shared gives information about elevation and other growth conditions. I think JD will be too low (er, his land) for high altitude trees…

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Yeah I’m looking at maybe less than 200 meters above sea level, but backed up against the mountains.

I don’t want to be a wet blanket but would like to flag a potential issue.

More than a decade ago I met a retired Taiwanese-Australian couple who told me that they had been forced to cut down the trees they planted near their house by the county because they were not for economic use and were preventing the land from being used for agriculture. They had previously had problems getting and maintaining their farm land use permit because they couldn’t produce receipt or other evidence that they were farming the land and commercially selling the produce.

Having to cut down the trees was so traumatic that they sold the land and left Taiwan.

Now that was a while ago and there have been a bunch of changes to land and farming laws since then. Maybe this is now possible or there are ways to work around these problems.

I also saw accounts online about problems with shrubs, hedges, grass/weeds, and rock beds.

The overarching principle seems to be that farm land must be used for farming and that the authorities are sensitive to ‘fake’ farming. I’m not sure how permaculture fits into this.

There are many cases including recent ones where local government revoked farming permits and the courts upheld the revocation. For example 高雄高等行政法院判決110年度訴字第188號. Note the part where it is explained that any kind of “garden landscape planting” is not permitted because of no economic value.

As for subsidies for afforestration/reforestation, these seem to be the main rules. This article says that you can get subsidies for as little as .1 hectares of reforested hillside farmland in Chiayi.

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No guts no glory. And I still intend to farm as raise chickens. :rooster:

Good points. From what I have seen, this is enforced more in “mountain land” where everything is far more strict. Can’t even dig without permission.

It is easy to get around, just sells stuff and have some receipts.

The hard part is if growing forestry trees on farmland. Although tree pla tattoos are common on farmland as well. Various “cedars”, teak, mahogany, eucalyptus etc.

Growing shade crops under the shade etc. It’s easy to get away with.

Yes. We were just talking about that stuff. Keep ALL receipts.

As we’re looking at farmland, and it will have to be farmed for two years before we can apply to build a house, it’ll still have to be farmed.

We can decide later on to change to a business license, throw some camping huts or something up, but until then it’s a farm.

Fine by me.

Also what I was just talking about with my wife as we walked around the university.

So what if the tree is for wind breaking? I know coffee farms often have trees planted around them to block the wind and prevent issues. Or do you have to prove that somehow?

Just so you know farm lands have a shit ton of restrictions especially in the mountains. If you bought mountain land and thought you’re getting a deal, you don’t own the land, the government has a ton of rules on them. The trade off it seems is that farm land have almost no property tax.

If you have a problem with that, buy building land.