Congregation of the Alpine Rare Vegetation Species - Nanhu Mountain Area


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  It's Geographic Location

 Nanhu Mountain Area is located at the beginning northern section of the Central Mountain Range. Among the mountains at Nanhu, the Nanhutashan (Nanhu Big Mountain) is classified under the administration of the Taroko National Park. It has been regarded as the symbol of Taiwan's majestic alpine landscape. The main reason contributing to such recognition is that blessed by favorable climatic condition and gentle topography, this area affords numerous unique species of vegetation. Some have been enlisted as rare plant species. Every year from May to August, the mountain is blanketed in a dazzling array of flowers, hauling climbers and photographers alike, for a view of nature in its utmost splendor.

 Every May, various rhododendrons unleash their blossoms. All along the trail from the mountain entrance to Chiliat Shed, attractive Nanhu rhododendrons dot the entire landscape. After the Chiliat Shed is the spacious Fanmachen meadow. Numerous colorful Yushan rhododendrons and Nanhu rhododendron flowers have since replaced its greenery. Their appearances at such wilderness truly exemplify the beauty of Mother Nature. After passing the Fanmachen meadow, we can begin to spot some common as well as rare species of vegetation endemic to Taiwan. Due to space restriction, we will only introduce a few rare species below.

 Nanhutashan (Nanhu Big Mountain) is the forth-highest mountain on the island. The Nanhutashan heads the Nanhu Group of Mountains. It's area includes the Nanhu North Peak along the northern crest line, the Nanhu Northeast Peak, the Nanhu East Peak along the eastern crest line, Taoshai Peak, Nanhu Southeast Peak, Mapishan Mountain, Papa Mountain along the southern crest line and finally, the Nanhu South Peak. The clear mountain trails have attracted hosts of climbers all year round. However, due to constant weather changes, and the flowering season also coincides with the plum rainy season, scaling the Nanhu Mountains during this time can prove to be a big challenge for the climbers. Nevertheless, the plum rain is the best gift God has given to his earthly creations. Enriched by the abundant moisture, the flowers unleash themselves, forming magnificent seas of flowers. Its enchantment is truly beyond words can describe.

  Nanhutashan Epilobium

 The Nanhutashan epilobiums scatter over the areas like manicured lawn in a park. The enormous amount of epilobiums blankets the entire area like violet carpet during flowering season. It is this stunning beauty that Nanhutashan epilobium has been regarded as priced symbol of alpine vegetation by the Taroko National Park's administration.

 Nanhutashan epilobiums are evergreen herbaceous plants, belonging to the masculine gender of the epilobium species. They grow on bare rocky landscape. Their stems are short and the leaves appear in elliptic shape. The purplish red small flowers grow at the tips of the stems. Every year from mid June to the beginning of July, they would start to blossom. Towards September, the fruits begin to ripe.

 Although the Nanhutashan epilobiums at the central summit area in Nanhu are so abundant that passage is made difficult for climbers, such sight is rarely seem in other mountain areas on the island. It is no wonder that this vegetation has been classified as a rare plant species.

  Fake Mushroom

 Fake Mushrooms grow densely together with tubular shape calyx. The plant is fully covered by its tuft of white flowers, their leaves almost invisible from outside. From far, they seem like patches of white object stuck to the ground. Climbers, who are not familiar with this plant, tend to pass it as litters. Occasionally, climbers when viewing the plants from far, mistaken the Crystal Orchid as the fake mushrooms. This is because these two plant species have the same habitual behavior and they both grow at alpine area where it is moist and dotted with dense Yushan Arrow Bamboo Grassland.

 Fake mushrooms are very few on the island, and not easily found. I pondered upon this plant once only by sere luck. That day, at the forest between Yinlin Mountain Resort and Chiliat Shed, I was looking for a place to rest and accidentally saw a tuft of fake mushroom. After that encounter, I have returned to this mountain area but they were no way to be found.

 The fake mushroom's flowers usually last for a week and then wither. It survives on soil containing decomposed vegetation. As such, they are regarded as a type of saprophyte plant.

  Alpine Willow

 At the Nanhu Mountain area, alpine willows are considered a very rare plant species. They grow on the cracks among the rock fragments. This choice of habitat is maybe due to their dependence on the wind to carry their seeds. Alpine Willows' seeds are embedded a hairy outer layer. After they are carried away by wind, they start to germinate on bare rock areas. Their habitat is commonly found at the east flank of Nanhu Main Peak, Nanhu South Peak and the Central Pointed Mountain.

 Alpine willows possess elliptical shape leaves. They differ from the rest of the willow family as they belong to the low shrubbery type. The plant is low and its stem is no longer than 2 feet. Its branches grow in abundant and when the tree-crowns join together; they cover the entire ground. Observers have to squat down in order to find the willows. Else, it would be mistaken as common vegetation.

 Alpine willow starts its flowering season at the last week of June. The male and female flowers grow separately. In September, its fruits begin to ripe. Once entering into snowy season, the low-lying alpine willows would be buried under the snow and disappear from the scene.