Taiwan’s mountains – with their subtropical foothills and alpine peaks – have been a haven for rare plants throughout the island’s history. But how did they get there? Scientist Yu Chih Chieh leads us through millennia of natural history in one of Asia’s great floral ecosystems.
Taiwan’s mountains, with their subtropical foothills and alpine peaks, have been a haven for rare plants throughout the island’s history. But how did they get there? Plant scientist Yu Chih Chieh takes us all the way back before the days of human migration in this beautifully detailed and copiously illustrated history of Taiwanese mountain flora.
Though perhaps best known for its tropical scenes, Taiwan boasts a central mountain range with over two hundred peaks reaching higher than three thousand meters (for comparison: there are three hundred such peaks in the entire United States), which provide innumerable unique microclimates for all sorts of plant species, many of which live nowhere else in the world. Yu leads us to many of these exquisite habitats using pictures, maps, and stories from his mountaineering youthhood.
Did you know that Taiwan is part of a small region that was spared the geological ravages of the Ice Age? In Yu’s words, it is part of a “Noah’s Ark” of ancient plants, a refuge that bore them safely through that period and that still protects them today. As Yu says in the introduction, “Each high mountain herb or tree in this book is a crystallization of global biogeography…. The hero in a multi-generational epic, an odyssey that begins in a distant land and ends at high altitude in Taiwan.”