What are some typical plants of Taiwan?

I often go walking in the hills, and see lots of plants, without knowing what their names are. What are some typical ones, for each classification?

[quote]Mold on the rocks



Vines (chien nyiu hua, the “leading-cow flower”?)

Bamboo of all sizes and varieties

Proper trees–I see palm, pine, and a bunch of others I can’t identify[/quote]

I read somewhere that Taiwan has a mixture of tropical and temperate flora. Sound right?

Go to Page One or Eslite and get stuck into a book. there are ten thousand species of fern here, for starters, and hundreds of local orchids, and many many unique species of trees, way too many to desribe even a common one for you… anyway, english common names here are not worth anything, as its all been given Chinese names, of course. Latin species names from a species list will help you get the right english common names from one of the many internet databases available now.

If you read Chinese, you would enjoy this database: “Natural Resource and Ecology GIS Database in Taiwan.”

Database link: http://ngis.zo.ntu.edu.tw/index1.htm

It’s full of pictures and introductions of indigenous life forms of Taiwan.

I’ll try to remember and check the name of the plant book that’s been like a bible for me. All in Chinese but it has the Linnean, drawings, diagrams and colour photos of pretty much everything you’re likely to see on your jaunts. I don’t do the old Chinee reading stuff, but I’ve never had a problem identifying species with it. Identify, get the Linnean name and tap it into Google. Bob’s your uncle.

One of my favourites is the Sensitive plant (含羞草). Touch the leaves and it immediately starts to close up on itself. Quite fun.

  1. Trees
  2. Grass
  3. Flowers

One of my favorite indigenous plants of Taiwan.
玉山杜鵑 Rhododendron pseudochrysanthum Hay

There is the “‘A’ vegetable.” Commonly found in nightmarkets and resturants all over the island.

台灣蝴蝶蘭 (Phalaenopsis aphrodite
岩生秋海棠 Begonia ravenii Peng & Chen

Is that the one that is a tad bitter and the water turns a bit reddish when it is steamed?


Thank you everyone. Yes, Urodacus, the subject is quite daunting, and I wish I could find some relatively painless way into it. Sandman’s book sounds good. I have been looking for books but haven’t found one that I felt I could use.

Granting that there’s probably a zillion different species of everything (well, except us), is there some way to get a “frequency chart” of which ones are most common?

Off the top of my head:


Camphor Tree
Common Gordonia
Chinese Yew


Common Tree Fern

…oops! Gotta go! Work!

One of the most common trees in Taiwan:雀榕.

Thanks, Chris and Kate.

Does anybody know either English or Linnean for the tree in the pic?

That common “sword grass” or whatever they call it, found on many mountaintops: Miscanthus.

Fabulous local “Taiwan coffin cypress” or just “Taiwan cypress”: Taiwania cryptomeroides. Now a fairly rare timber tree, as the Japanese strippped as much as they could easily find. It’s often found in plantations now though it’s fairly slow growing, but the wood is beautiful for cabinetry and ornaments (and coffins).

A frequency chart of plant types is not very useful on the ground: better to get a feel for what is in your area by looking and then identifying what you find. Photograph them, or even take a twig or bunch of leaves and fruit if possible to ID at home (wrap in a few sheets of newspaper and bag them to carry with ease in a pack). That way you can leave the heavy books at home.

I would not recommend this for orchids or other unusual flowers you find… for them, just take photos and don’t even touch if you can help it… many orchids don’t like to have their flowers knocked around, for example.

There are some excellent botany texts available in Taiwan, but mostly in Chinese of course. Like I said, flap around your local good book store for a while ands see what you can see.

You’re lucky, you’re into plants, which have a wealth of interested people from all points of view, from hobby botanists to timber companies to artists. Butterflies are well covered here too, and rightly so. You should just try getting interested in something unusual like frogs, and then you’ll see a real dearth of resources…

Sez you. Don’t estimate them locals under: Multimedia Database of Taiwan’s Amphibians

As to identifying plants: just take pictures of them and post them on the relevant sub-board on TaNei (Plant/Insect/Herper forums). Within hours, somebody will reply with the correct answer.

Thanks for that link, I had seen it once but not remembered it as I don’t read much Chinese. The location records are handy, as are the sound grabs.

True, there are some frog sites around. Another one in English is:

But apart from that, there’s not much amphibian stuff anywhere, and the same can be said for most countries. It’s compounded by the fact that much info on local frogs is in Chinese or in Japanese.

Many more plant books and sites available in comparison.

Here’s a nice little website I just found: Taiwan plant of the week.

homepage.ntu.edu.tw/~karchung/Pl … e_week.htm