Plant Diversity ›› 2021, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (02): 134-141.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2020.09.003

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Native useful vascular plants of China: A checklist and use patterns

Huifu Zhuanga,b, Chen Wangb, Yanan Wanga, Tao Jina, Rong Huanga, Zihong Lina, Yuhua Wangb   

  1. a Service Center for Information Technology, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, 650201, China
    b Yunnan Key Laboratory for Wild Plant Resources, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, 650201, China
  • Received:2020-05-15 Revised:2020-08-28 Online:2021-04-25 Published:2021-05-20
  • Contact: Yuhua Wang
  • Supported by:
    We thank the Scientific data center of Kunming Institute of Botany for dataset and digitization supporting. This study was supported by Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. XDA20050204, XDA19050301), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 32000261) and the 13th Five-year Informatization Plan of Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. XXH13506, XXH-13514).

Abstract: Of all types of interactions between humans and plants, the utilization of plants by people is the most direct and influential. China has a long history of using native plants and a large body of recorded knowledge on uses. Here, we present an inventory of plant uses in China based on an extensive survey of the literature. Twelve categories of usage are recognized (medicinal, edible, etc.), these categories being chosen according to an integration of various current standards. A total of 50,521 use-citations were recorded, covering 10,808 species and infraspecies, representing 28% of the Chinese flora. Additional information is included in the dataset on taxonomy and endangerment status. Analysis of the data reveals that the eight plant families with the greatest numbers of species used in China, namely Asteraceae, Fabaceae, Rosaceae, Ranunculaceae, Poaceae, Lamiaceae, Orchidaceae, and Liliaceae, are also the top eight most species-rich Chinese plant families. However, there are some families that are overrepresented or under-representation in certain use categories, compared with their relative abundance in the total flora. There are indications that rare and endangered species are being subject to some degree of over-exploitation. A disproportionately high number of used species are Chinese endemics (3552 species, representing over 33% of used species). A total of 20% of used species have been classified as threatened nationally or globally, according to at least one of the various threat assessments that have been made for the Chinese flora. This comprehensive inventory of the useful plants of China, with relevant ethnobotanical information included, provides a baseline for further studies of plant resources. It will be useful in follow-up research. The scientific dataset it contains will be useful for the protection and sustainable utilization of plant resources in China.

Key words: Useful plants, Ethnobotany, Plant diversity, Traditional knowledge, China