Glyptostrobus pensilis (Staunt. ex D.Don) K. Koch - CUPRESSACEAE

Basionym : Thuja pensilis Staunt.

Synonym : Glyptostrobus heterophyllus (Brongn.) Endl.

Common name : Chinese Water Pine (Shui song)

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Botanical descriptions Habitat and ecology Distribution

Botanical descriptions :

Diagnostic characters : Large conifer, often buttressed and with pneumatophores. Leaves dimorphic, needle-like on juvenile and short deciduous shoots, scale-like on long branchlets and fertile shoots. Unisexual on the same tree, cones small. Seeds with a thin wing.
Habit : Large, semi-deciduous tree, often with swollen or buttressed base and pneumatophores, up to 25m, dbh to 1m.
Trunk & bark : Trunk straight, single stemmed, usually with conical crown (spreading in older trees); bark longitudinally fissured, peeling in irrregular strips, brown or reddish; inner bark red-pink.
Branches and branchlets or twigs : Main branches long and slender, upper branches ascending, foliage clustered at ends of branches; foliage branches either long and persistent or short and deciduous.
Exudates : Not known.
Leaves : Two types of leaves can be present, all alternate distichous or helically arranged.
Scale-like leaves on long branchlets and fertile shoots, decurrent and imbricate with pronounced abaxial keel, stomata in rows on either side of keel.
Needle-like leaves on short deciduous shoots either helically arranged, linear and decurrent or falcate and radially spreading.
Inflorescences or flowers : Monoecious; female cones solitary , terminal of very short branchlets; male cones solitary and terminal, 3-5mm long.
Fruits : Cone pyrifom to obovate, 20-25 scales with tooth-like lobes on apical edge; brown at maturity.
Seeds : Seed oblong, flattened, 5-7mm with single thin wing.

Habitat and ecology :

Low lying wet areas, stream sides; Vietnam and Laos 500-700m; China, near sea level.

Distribution :

South East China (mainly cultivated), Vietnam (2 localities), Laos (Khammouan).

Remark/notes/uses :
Genus has a long fossil history (ca 65 my) and was a major component of coal forming swamp forests in many parts of the northern hemisphere. Now, only one species - probably no natural populations in China; less than 250 trees in Vietnam; full distribution in Laos unknown. Currently listed as globally endangered.
China - timber from naturally fallen trees is used for boat building and bridge construction as it is water resistant. Also planted on canal banks for stabilisation; has a strong feng shui association; often planted to bring good luck.
Vietnam - locally used for construction and craft.
Laos - no known use.

Specimens studied :
BT 513, VL 1122 (Herbarium of Faculty of Sciences-NUoL, NHN-Leiden and CIRAD-Montpellier), Coffman 1, 2, 6, 7 (Herbarium of Royal Botanical Garden, Edingburgh, Scotland, UK).

Literature :
Nguyen Tien Hiep, Phan Ke Loc, Nguyen Duc To Luu, P.I. Thomas, A. Farjon, L. Averyanov & J. Regalado Jr. 2004. Vietnam Conifers: Conservation Status Review 2004. Fauna & Flora International, Vietnam Programme, Hanoi.
Nguyen Duc To Luu & P. Thomas. 2004. Cay La Kim Viet Nam (Conifers of Vietnam: an illustrated field guide). World Publishing House, Hanoi. 121 pp. (in Vietnamese and English).
Farjon A. 2005. A monograph of the Cupressaceae and Sciadopityaceae. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Richmond, UK.

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