Aspidistra daibuensis

Accepted name Aspidistra daibuensis Hayata. Ic. Pl. Formosan. 9. 143 (1920).
Distribution Taiwan
Description Description from Flora of China [unedited].

Rhizome stout, densely covered with scales.

Leaves solitary; petiole 10 - 13 cm; leaf blade green and sometimes with white or yellowish white spots adaxially, oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate, 45 - 50 x 8 - 12 cm, base cuneate, apex acute to acuminate.

Scape erect, 2 - 2.5 cm; bracts 4 or 5. Flower solitary.

Perianth urceolate-campanulate, 22.5 cm, 8-lobed apically; lobes narrowly deltoid, ca. 10 x 5 mm, thickened, adaxially with 2 fleshy keels at middle.

Stamens 8, inserted at middle of perianth tube; anthers yellow.

Pistil: Ovary cylindric.

Fruit: Berry globose, 11.5 cm in diameter.

Season: Fl. Jan.

2n = 36

Description of BSWJ 312b (drc).  INCOMPLETE

Rhizome: creeping, subterete,


Peduncle: 2.5 - 3 cm long with 3 - 4 bracts; flowers solitary.

Perianth [Perigone]: campanulate; tube thick-walled, ca. 1.3 cm long x 2 cm wide, pale pink-purple outside and inside except white below stamen insertion, smooth inside and out except for adaxial lobes; lobes 8, 1.5 cm long x 0.5 cm wide, recurved, red-purple basally shading to white with green tips, with 2 thickened lateral keels, adaxial surface rugose

Stamens: 8, inserted in base of perianth tube, filament ca. 1 mm, anther broadly ovate, 2 - 3 mm long.

Pistil: mushroom-shaped; style basally square columnar (diameter ca. 2 mm only) massively developed at the top into a 4-lobed peltate stigma, flat, pink abaxially, convex, purple adaxially, 10 mm thick in the centre, 15 mm in diameter, each main lobe comprising two sub-lobes with upfolded edges the edges uniting to form radial ridges rising toward the centre but not meeting and forming a deep central pit, the adaxial surface (stigmatic surface) papillose; ovary undescribed.

Fruit: undescribed.

Phenology: flowers August - October

Comments Aspidistra daibuensis is native to the mountains of Taiwan occurring at up to 1,800 m. My material is propagated from a Crg Farm collection (Aspidistra daibuensis BSWJ312b) from close to the South Cross Island Highway in southern Taiwan.  My problem here is that I am not completely certain that  BSWJ 312b really is Aspidistra daibuensis.  The Taiwanese Aspidistra (Aspidistra attenuata, Aspidistra daibuensis and Aspidistra mushaensis) are so poorly defined in the literature that it is not possible to identify plants with confidence.

I call this plant Aspidistra daibuensis because that is the name given to it by Crg Farm. However, it seems possible that this is in fact another Taiwanese species, Aspidistra mushaensis.

The problem is that when these two species were originally described in 1920 by Bunz Hayata he did not have very good material available to him and, critically, he did not have good quality flowers. So, while Hayata was able to give the flower colour of Aspidistra mushaensis and describe its stigma, he was unable to describe either character for Aspidistra daibuensis. Hayata's descriptions of these species are thus somewhat compromised.  Hayata's description of Aspidistra daibuensis is at http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/1159122 and http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/1159123.

Hayata does not describe the flower colour or stigma of Aspidistra daibuensis but the flower colour of A. mushaensis is given as whitish-rose and the stigma surface is given as strongly, deeply folded or undulating. The whitish-rose flower colour more or less matches BSWJ 312b and the stigma surface is indeed "strongly, deeply folded or undulating", rather similar to Aspidistra elatior in fact.

The relationship between the Taiwanese species of Aspidistra in the literature is also confusing. Having described Aspidistra attenuata in 1912 as being "nearest to A. elatior" Hayata wrote that Aspidistra daibuensis was "near A. mushaensis" and Aspidistra mushaensis was "near A. attenuata". These comments, combined with Hayata's less than complete descriptions led S. S. Ying in the 2000 Flora of Taiwan edition 2 (5 : 40) to conclude that the differences between Aspidistra attenuata, A. daibuensis and A. mushaensis were "minute". Ying therefore lumped them all together under Aspidistra attenuata, which he then treated as a subspecies of Aspidistra elatior

Ying's entry on Aspidistra elatior var. attenuata from the 2000 Flora of Taiwan is here and here

However, the differences between the flowers of Aspidistra attenuata BSWJ 377 and Aspidistra daibuensis BSWJ 312b are not "minute" they are substantial and, without any evidence of intermediate forms, more than sufficient to maintain them as distinct species.  From the stigma BSWJ 312b would appear to be close to Aspidistra elatior but BSWJ 377 is quite distinct.


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last updated 15/10/2008