Floras in Yunnan

Brief Introduction

Floras in Yunnan are mainly distributed in southern and southeastern region of the Yunnan Province. The southern and tropical southeastern regions of the Yunnan Province in southwestern China have similar monsoonal climates and lowland tropical rain forest vegetations. The floras of both regions are dominated by tropical floristic elements (78.3% in southern Yunnan and 68.83% in southeastern Yunnan), and both belong to the Indo-Malaysian flora at the northern margin of tropical Asia.

Yunnan, in southwestern China, is a region of exceptional interest to biologists not only because it is situated in a transitional zone between tropical south-east Asia and temperate east Asia, but also because it was at a sutural zone between Gondwana and Laurasia. The origin and evolution of the Yunnan flora were largely influenced by the uplift of the Himalayas, the formation of the east Asian monsoon climate and the extrusion of the Indochina block into tropical SE Asia since the later Tertiary.

A total of 4996 species and 1357 genera in 186 families of seed plants from tropical southeastern Yunnan, and a total of 4150 native species (including subspecies and varieties) from 1240 genera and 183 families of seed plants from southern Yunnan were recognized. Both floras are comprised of almost the same primary species-rich families, such as Fabaceae, Orchidaceae, Rubiaceae, Poaceae, Asteraceae, Euphorbiaceae, Lauraceae and Urticaceae. However, among the secondary species-rich families, tropical families, such as Zingiberaceae, Asclepiadaceae, Apocynaceae, Annonaceae, are more dominant in the flora of southern Yunnan, while those with a mainly temperate distribution, such as Ericaceae, Theaceae, Liliaceae and Araliaceae, are more dominant in the flora of tropical southeastern Yunnan.

Eight Famous Flowers of Yunnan

CamelliaAzaleaPrimroseGentianLilyMagnoliaOrchid and Meconopsis are the eight most famous flowers of Yunnan.

1. Camellia

Yunnan Camellia also called Dian Camellia belongs to the Camellia Genus, Camellia Family, which originally grows in Yunnan and features tall trees, wide and thick leaves as well as big flowers. Camellia is one of the traditional flowers of China and one of the Eight Famous Flowers in Yunnan Province and most importantly is the city flower of Kunming. It has a history of planting of over 1,000 years. As an oil-plant and stem resource for new specie grafting, it is now the plant of the second class under the state protection. There are more than 130 species of planted camellias in Yunnan.

2. Azalea

Yunnan people have various nicknames for azaleas and rhododendrons: mayinghua, yingshanhong or manshanhong are just a few names for the beautiful flowers that carpets the mountains and valleys. The title song of the classic movie Sparkling Red Star, is called Yingshanhong, and praises the beauty of azaleas. But it turns out that bright red is not azaleas’ only color, a fact which is particularly true in Yunnan, whose many varieties of azalea boast a range of colors that is second to none.

Azaleas are naturally distributed in the temperate and subtropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere. There are 800 species in the world, more than 600 species in China and nearly 300 species in Yunnan. Yunnan is known as “Azalea’s birthplace and distribution center.”

Jiaozi Snow Mountain is the closest place to Kunming to enjoy azalea in their natural forms, with flowering periods of the numerous azalea species and varieties extending from January to July, when they bloom in vast and spectacular flowery tracts in an area of about 10,000 mu(about 667 hectares). Jiaozi Snow Mountain aside, two other venues for azalea-viewing are also worthy consideration: the western slope of Cangshan Mountain, and Pudacuo National Park—the former in Yangbi County, Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, the latter in Shangri-La.

Recommended tours with Jiaozi Snow Mountain
1 Day Kunming Jiaozi Snow Mountain Tour
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3. Primrose

There are more than 300 species of primrose in China, among them, Yunnan accounts for more than half of the species. The mountains of northwest Yunnan is the birthplace of “Yunnan’s three famous flowers” and the distribution center of primrose.

Primula vulgaris (primrose/报春花) is a species of flowering plant in the family Primulaceae, native to western and southern Europe (from the Faroe Island and Norway south to Portugal, and east to Germany, Ukraine, the Crimea, and the Balkans), northwest Africa (Algeria), and southwest Asia (Turkey east to Iran). The common name is primrose, or occasionally common primrose or English primrose to distinguish it from other Primula species also called primroses. The primrose is one of the earliest spring flowers in much of Europe. “Primrose” is ultimately from Old French primerose or medieval Latin prima rosa, meaning “first rose”, though it is not closely related to the rose family Rosaceae.

4. Gentian

There are more than 800 species in the world, 200 species in China and more than 100 species in Yunnan. Gentian “leaves like nightshade, taste like gall”, hence the name. When a dark blue gentian in Lijiang of Yunnan Province was introduced to the Royal Botanical Garden in Britain, it was once a sensation and was regarded as one of the most valuable ornamental plants introduced in the 19th century.

Gentiana Scabra (or Japanese gentian/龙胆花) is a species of flowering plant in the Gentian family (Gentianaceae), found in much of the United States and Japan. The flowers bloom in mid-summer, and are blue or dark blue in color. 

5. Lily

Lily is perennial root herb of Liliaceae. There are more than 40 species of lilies in Yunnan. Lily is with a long flower season and a lot of flower colors, of course, it has fragrance. Lily can be used for potted landscape cultivation, but also can be planted in the garden , and the flowers can be sold. In modern society, lily is one of people’s favorite flowers.

Flowers terminal or racemose, lily usually has one to four flowers. Yunnan is unique, including a Dali Lily, as many as 30-40 flowers, can be called lily of the outstanding.

6. Magnolia

The spring breeze comes to south of clouds(Yunnan) first. In Spring, Magnolia or Yulan, which blooms at the same time as camellia, is an indispensable ornamental plant in Yunnan courtyard. Although there are many kinds of magnolia flowers, magnolia in Yunnan is still the best.

The province of Yunnan, the native home of Magnolia, is one of China’s richest botanical areas. The size of California, Yunnan has great variety in elevation from valley and plateau to high mountain, resulting in many different microclimates. Half of all the plants found in China grow there.

There are 41 species of what was once called Michelia in China (all of which have been lumped into the genus Magnolia), and 23 of these grow in Yunnan. Some are two hundred years old and grow at altitudes as high as 9000 feet, far higher than other varieties of magnolias can survive.

7. Orchid

The fragrance of orchid is clear and mellow, which enjoys the good names of “National Fragrance” and “The First Fragrance in China”. There are more than 20 species of orchid plants in China, Yunnan gets everything of them. Xishuangbanna in particular for more.

8. Meconopsis

Europeans regard it as “famous flowers in the world”. There are 49 species in the world, the most abundant in China, accounting for 38 species, and 17 species in Yunnan. With gorgeous floral color, Meconopsis has a high ornamental value. Northwest Yunnan, known as the “natural garden”, with high mountains and deep valleys, is the breeding place of Meconopsis. 

You have already known Yunnan is a colorful land, but, do you know how to explore to the fullest in each destination? Yunnan Exploration provide some tour packages about flowers for you. Check More Information About Flowers tours.
Kunming Night Tour to Dounan Fresh-cut Flowers Market
1 Day Kunming Jiaozi Snow Mountain Tour

Flora in Xishuangbanna

Xishuangbanna is the most intact region of tropical ecosystem in China. It is known as “plant kingdom”, “animal kingdom”, “biological gene pool”, “an emerald on the crown of plant kingdom” and so on. Menglun Tropical Botanical Garden is the largest botanical garden in China, enjoying the fame of ‘Heart of Green Gem’.

Xishuangbanna has the only tropical rain forest nature reserve in China. It is a national ecological demonstration area, a national scenic spot, a member of the United Nations Biodiversity Conservation Circle. Floras in Xishuangbanna take up 1/6 of the country’s total, 2000 species of animals account for one quarter of the whole country, with forest coverage of 80.8%. It is the second largest natural rubber production base in China, the native home for large leaf tea, and the hometown of Pu’er tea, with 1 AAAAA level scenic spot and 9 AAAA level scenic spots. Xishuangbanna, noted for its magical natural landscape of tropical rainforest and ethnic customs, is one of the most popular tourist cities in China. The annual Water splashing Festival is held on April 13-15 and is known as the “Oriental Carnival”. 

If you like miraculous nature, go ahead to heart of green gem- Menglun Tropical Botanical Garden for 1~2 days, and experience the Dai minority culture by the way. Check More Information About Xishaungbanna Travel Guide.