Hellenica World

Cathaya

Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Classis: Pinopsida
Ordo: Pinales
Familia: Pinaceae
Genus: Cathaya
Species: Cathaya argyrophylla

Name

Cathaya Chun & Kuang

Cathaya is a genus in family Pinaceae and has one known living species, Cathaya argyrophylla. Cathaya is a member of the subfamily Laricoideae, most closely related to Pseudotsuga and Larix. A second species, C. nanchuanensis, is now treated as a synonym, as it does not differ from C. argyrophylla in any characters.

Cathaya is confined to a limited area in southern China, in the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan and southeast Sichuan. It is found on steep, narrow mountain slopes at 950-1800 m altitude, on limestone soils. A larger population has been reduced by over-cutting before its scientific discovery and protection in 1950.

The leaves are needle-like, 2.5-5 cm long, have ciliate (hairy) margins when young, and grow around the stems in a spiral pattern. The cones are 3-5 cm long, with about 15-20 scales, each scale bearing two winged seeds.

One or two botanists, unhappy with the idea of a new genus in such a familiar family, tried to shoehorn it into other existing genera, as Pseudotsuga argyrophylla and Tsuga argyrophylla. It is however very distinct from both of these genera, and these combinations are not now used.

Fossils of extinct species of Cathaya are abundant in European brown coal deposits dating from between 10-30 million years ago.

The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia has a small living specimen.

References

* Conifer Specialist Group (1998). Cathaya argyrophylla. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 6 May 2006.
* Gymnosperm Database: Cathaya argyrophylla
* Flora of China: Cathaya argyrophylla

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