Page:EB1911 - Volume 06.djvu/185

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FLORA]
171
CHINA
long-tailed P. reevesi. The Himalayan bamboo-partridges (Bambusicola)

have also a Chinese representative. The only other large bird that can be mentioned is the Manchurian crane, misnamed Grus japonensis. Pigeons include the peculiar subgenus Dendroteron; while among smaller birds, warblers, tits and finches, all of an Eastern Holarctic type, constitute the common element in the avifauna. Little would be gained by naming the genera, peculiar or otherwise.

China has a few peculiar types of freshwater tortoises, among which Ocadia sinensis represents a genus unknown elsewhere, while there is also a species of the otherwise Indian genus Damonia. The Chinese alligator, Alligator sinensis, has been already mentioned. Among lizards, the genera Plestiodon, Mabuia, Tachydromus and Gecko, of which the two latter are very characteristic of the Oriental region, range through China to Japan; and among snakes, the Malay python (Python reticulatus) is likewise Chinese. The giant salamander (Cryptobranchus, or Megalobatrachus, maximus) represents, as mentioned above, a type found elsewhere only in North America, while Hynobius and Onychodactylus are peculiar generic types of salamanders. Among fishes, it must suffice to refer to the spoon-beaked sturgeon (Psephurus) of the Yangtsze-kiang, and the numerous members of the carp family to be found in the rivers of China. From these native carp the Chinese have produced two highly coloured breeds, the goldfish and the telescope-eyed carp.

Among the invertebrates special mention may be made of the great ailanthus silk-moth (Attacus cynthia) of northern China and Japan, and also of its Manchurian relative A. pernyi; while it may be added that the domesticated “silkworm” (Bombyx mori) is generally believed to be of Chinese origin, although this is not certain. Very characteristic of China is the abundance of handsomely coloured swallow-tailed butterflies of the family Papilionidae. The Chinese kermes (Coccus sinensis) is also worth mention, on account of it yielding wax. As regards land and freshwater snails, China exhibits a marked similarity to Siam and India; the two groups in which the Chinese province displays decided peculiarities of its own being Helix (in the wider sense) and Clausilia. There are, for instance, nearly half a score of subgenera of Helix whose headquarters are Chinese, while among these, forms with sinistral shells are relatively common. The genus Clausilia is remarkable on account of attaining a second centre of development in China, where its finest species, referable to several subgenera, occur. Carnivorous molluscs include a peculiar slug (Rathouisia) and the shelled genera Ennea and Streptaxis. In the western provinces species of Buliminus are abundant, and in the operculate group Heudeia forms a peculiar type akin to Helicina, but with internal foldings to the shell.

Lastly, it has to be mentioned that the waters of the Yangtsze-kiang are inhabited by a small jelly-fish, or medusa (Limnocodium kawaii), near akin to L. sowerbii, which was discovered in the hot-house tanks in the Botanical Gardens in the Regent’s Park, London,

but whose real home is probably the Amazon.

 (R. L.*) 

Flora.

The vegetation of China is extremely rich, no fewer than 9000

species of flowering plants having been already enumerated, of which nearly a half are endemic or not known to occur elsewhere. Whole provinces are as yet only partially explored; and the total flora is estimated to comprise ultimately 12,000 species. China is the continuation eastward of the great Himalayan mass, numerous chains of mountains running irregularly to the sea-board. Thousands of deep narrow valleys form isolated areas, where peculiar species have been evolved. Though the greater part of the country has long ago been cleared of its primeval forest and submitted to agriculture, there still remain some extensive forests and countless small woods in which the original flora is well preserved. Towards the north the vegetation is palaearctic, and differs little in its composition from that of Germany, Russia and Siberia. The flora of the western and central provinces is closely allied to that of the Himalayas and of Japan; while towards the south this element mingles with species derived from Indo-China, Burma and the plain of Hindostan. Above a certain elevation, decreasing with the latitude, but approximately 6000 ft. in the Yangtsze basin, there exist in districts remote from the traffic of the great rivers, extensive forests of conifers, like those of Central Europe in character, but with different species of silver fir, larch, spruce and Cembran pine. Below this altitude the woods are composed of deciduous and evergreen broad-leafed trees and shrubs, mingled together in a profusion of species. Pure broad-leafed forests of one or two species are rare, though small woods of oak, of alder and of birch are occasionally seen. There is nothing comparable to the extensive beech forests of Europe, the two species of Chinese beech being sporadic and rare trees. The heaths, Calluna and Erica, which cover great tracts of barren sandy land in Europe, are absent from China, where the Ericaceous vegetation is made up of numerous species of Rhododendron, which often cover vast areas on the mountain slopes. Pine forests occur at low levels, but are always small in extent.

The appearance of the vegetation is very different from that of the United States, which is comparable to China in situation and in extent. Though there are 60 species of oak in China, many with magnificent foliage and remarkable cupules, the red oaks, so characteristic of North America, with their bristle-pointed leaves, turning beautiful colours in autumn, are quite unknown. The great coniferous forest west of the Rocky Mountains has no analogue in China, the gigantic and preponderant Douglas fir being absent, while the giant Sequoias are represented only on a small scale by Cryptomeria, which attains half their height.

Certain remnants of the Miocene flora which have disappeared from Europe are still conspicuous and similar in North America and China. In both regions there are several species of Magnolia; one species each of Liriodendron, Liquidambar and Sassafras; and curious genera like Nyssa, Hamamelis, Decumaria and Gymnocladus. The swamps of the south-eastern states, in which still survive the once widely spread Taxodium or deciduous cypress, are imitated on a small scale by the marshy banks of rivers near Canton, which are clad with Glyptostrobus, the “water-pine” of the Chinese. Pseudolarix, Cunninghamia and Keteleeria are coniferous genera peculiar to China, which have become extinct elsewhere. The most remarkable tree in China, the only surviving link between ferns and conifers, Ginkgo biloba, has only been seen in temple gardens, but may occur wild in some of the unexplored provinces. Its leaves have been found in the tertiary beds of the Isle of Mull.

Most of the European genera occur in China, though there are curious exceptions like the plane tree, and the whole family of the Cistaceae, which characterize the peculiar maquis of the Mediterranean region. The rhododendrons, of which only four species are European, have their headquarters in China, numbering 130 species, varying in size from miniature shrubs 6 in. high to tall trees. Lysimachia, Primula, Clematis, Rubus and Gentiana have each a hundred species, extraordinary variable in habit, in size and in colour of the flowers. The ferns are equally polymorphic, numbering 400 species, and including strange genera like Archangiopteris and Cheiropteris, unknown elsewhere. About 40 species of bamboos have been distinguished; the one with a square stem from Fu-kien is the most curious.

With a great wealth of beautiful flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants, the Chinese at an early period became skilled horticulturists. The emperor Wu Ti established in 111 B.C. a botanic garden at Ch‘ang-an, into which rare plants were introduced from the west and south. Many garden varieties originated in China. The chrysanthemum, perhaps the most variable of cultivated flowers, is derived from two wild species (small and inconspicuous plants), and is mentioned in the ancient Chinese classics. We owe to the skill of the Chinese many kinds of roses, lilies, camellias and peonies; and have introduced from China some of the most ornamental plants in our gardens, as Wistaria, Diervilla, Kerria, Incarvillea, Deutzia, Primula sinensis, Hemerocallis, &c. The peach and several oranges are natives of China. The varnish tree (Rhus vernicifera), from which lacquer is obtained; the tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum); the white mulberry, on which silkworms are fed; and the tea plant were all first utilized by the Chinese. The Chinese have also numerous medicinal plants, of which ginseng and rhubarb are best known. Nearly all our vegetables and cereals have their counterpart in China, where there are numerous varieties not yet introduced into Europe,

though some, like the Soy bean, are now attracting great attention.

 (A. He.*) 

Authorities.—L. Richard (S.J.), Géographie de l’empire de Chine

(Shanghai, 1905)—the first systematic account of China as a whole in modern times. The work, enlarged, revised and translated into English by M. Kennelly (S.J.), was reissued in 1908 as Richard’s Comprehensive Geography of the Chinese Empire and Dependencies. This is the standard authority for the country and gives for each section bibliographical notes. It has been used in the revision of the present article. Valuable information on northern, central and western China is furnished by Col. C.C. Manifold and Col. A.W.S. Wingate in the Geog. Journ. vol. xxiii. (1904) and vol. xxix. (1907). Consult also Marshall Broomhall (ed.), The Chinese Empire: a General and Missionary Survey (London, 1907); B. Willis, E. Blackwelder and others, Research in China, vol. i. part i. “Descriptive Topography and Geology,” part ii. “Petrography and Zoology,” and Atlas (Washington, Carnegie Institution, 1906-1907); Forbes and Hemsley, “Enumeration of Chinese Plants,” in Journ. Linnean Soc. (Bot.), vols. xxiii. and xxxvi.; Bretschneider, History of European Botanical Discoveries in China; E. Tiessen, China das Reich der achtzehn Provinzen, Teil i. “Die allgemeine Geographie des Landes” (Berlin, 1902); and The China Sea Directory (published by the British Admiralty), a valuable guide to the coasts: vol. ii. (5th ed., 1906) deals with Hong-Kong and places south thereof, vol. iii. (4th ed., 1906, supp. 1907) with the rest of the Chinese coast; vol. i. (5th ed., 1906) treats of the islands and straits in the S.W. approach to the China Sea. Much of China has not been surveyed, but considerable progress has been made since 1900. The Atlas of the Chinese Empire (London, 1908), a good general atlas, which, however, has no hill shading, gives maps of each province on the scale of

1:3,000,000. The preface contains a list of the best regional maps.
The Journal af the China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society contains papers on all subjects relating to China.

II. The People

China is noted for the density of its population, but no accurate statistics are forthcoming. The province of Shan-tung is reputed