Sunday, February 21, 2016

Taiwan Part II. Taipei and Yangmingshan

Taipei Gu Kong Museum

Map of Yangmingshan Park

Epiphytic fern

Hamelia patens?

Coniogramme sp. 

Alpinia sp

Calanthe sp.

Lasianthus sp.

Smilax sp?

No idea, but neat foliage

Large fern sp

Even larger fern sp

Schefflera taiwaniana

Minute flowered Melastomaceae bush

Epiphytic fern

Fern with skeletonized leaf in middle

Pilea sp?

Grace among the giant ferns

Me and Cyanthea spinulosa

Sarcopyramis cf delicata and ferns

Creeping rock Fern with filmy fern

Viola confusa

Sarcopyramis cf delicata


Goodyera sp

Lirope sp and Ferns

Farfugium japonicum var formosanum and Selaginella sp
Filmy fern

Ferns and friends

Ardisia sp?  

Codonopsis sp

One of many mysterious red berried shrubs

Viola confusa

Phaius flavus

Yet another neat fern

Viola eriosperma

Viola confusa

Orange lichens 

Dichranopteris sp.

The stone steps continue ever upwards into a cloud forest

Finding fern spores

Hydrangea sp

Signage about ferns

Fern sp

Asarum sp and Rubrus sp. creeping

Asarum sp

Mystery sp

Pyrrhosa polydactyla

Asarum sp 

Polygonum sp. 

Liriope fruit and fern

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Miscanthis sinensis sea atop the mountain while looking down on Taipei

Grace and I atop Qixiangshan
When we got to Taipei the weather was quite different than Kaohsiung, it was cooler and often with light rain.  We did make the obligatory visit to the famous museum to where Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai Shek) brought many of the treasures from China as the Nationalist government fled the mainland as Mao's troops advanced.  We were not allowed to take photos in the museum which is sad because there were many very old and not so old wonderful cultural treasures in there.  Stuff from more than 8000 years ago right up to the last dynasty of China, the Qing, was beautifully displayed with good interpretative panels.   Jiang may have unwittingly done the PRC a huge favor in that this important Chinese cultural legacy was preserved when China went through the Cultural Revolution and anything deemed "old" was deemed reactionary and often destroyed on the mainland (though there were of course heroic individuals on the mainland who hid and protected many items so that they would escape the attention of the Red Guards).  I am sure at some point China and Taiwan will work out something regarding the future of these important cultural artifacts but for now the important thing is that they are safe and sound.  In fact throngs of PRC tourists were there in the museum looking through the many objects, often with tour guides helping to explain things.
Fortunately we got a clear day to take the bus to Yangmingshan, a park with various trails and peaks to the north of Taipei.   We got off the bus and decided to go up the Qixiangshan trail.  The good part is that it is well laid out with stone steps most of the way and flat gravel beds at times as well.   The possibly good part is that it is a hard workout on the heart going up, and the bad part is that it is hell on the knees and feet on the way down, at least for folks in my age group.   We saw lots of Chinese and Taiwanese climbing the path too, but they often had walking sticks.  A good idea for the next time I go up that trail, or any other trail in that part.  But I was quite excited and really wasnt going to let pain stop me, after all a botanical paradise awaited.  Now this was again quite different from what I have seen in Africa, much wetter and with many more fern species.  In fact if you are a fern aficionado, Taiwan really needs to be on your must visit short list. There were also a few orchids along the way, near the base of the trail were clumps of Calanthe sp which were long past bloom with nary a seed pod to be found, also spotted was a Goodyera and a Phaius flavus off the main trail.   Epiphytes abounded in the trees, mainly ferns but I think I saw what might have been a bulbiphyllum out of flower. There were so many kinds of ferns, from dwarf rock crawling single leaved creepers to giant ferns larger than us.   Also of note were a ginger at the foot of the trail, probably an Alpina sp. and the many red fruited bushes all along the trail.  Red fruit seems to be a common thing on a disparate group of species on this mountain and I am sure their must be some good ecological reason for it.  I recognized some shrubs and vines with red fruit but not most.  There were also some species with blue fruit as well.  As we neared the top the fog rolled in, and we found all kinds of variations of an Asarum species which unfortunately was too late for seeds.  That was not the case with a cool fruited Codonopsis nor two species of Viola which were frequent along the trail.  And I do love violets, except for our native V. sororia which propagates too well to be allowed in my gardens. At the top species of polygonum, creeping rubrus, and Miscanthus dominated, with the Asarum tucked in amongst them At one point we found blue gentian flowers which had been cut off during maintenance of the path to keep encroaching vegetation back.
Going back down the trail took more time than we thought so we had to rush to avoid the oncoming darkness.  By the end of the trail we were running through a parking lot to get one of the buses back to the subway station in Taipei from where they depart.   I had a sore foot and knees for a couple of days and my wife also felt it in the knees but it was worth it.   I will when time permits try and identify the various mystery ferns since I did pick up a book on the ferns of Taiwan.  But I am always open to any reader' suggestions as to the proper identifications of anything in the photos as Taiwan's flora is new and therefore not familiar to me.
I was going to include more on Taipei in this installment but it is getting late, so the next installment will show what they have for sale at the Taipei flower market, among other things.