Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (7): 21495.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2021495

• Special Feature: Remembering the 5th Anniversary of the 19th International Botanical Congress • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Resources and protection of Cycas plants in China

Huihui Xi1,2, Yiqing Wang1,2, Yuezhi Pan1, Tian Xu3, Qingqing Zhan4, Jian Liu1, Xiuyan Feng1,*(), Xun Gong1,*()   

  1. 1. Department of Economic Plants and Biotechnology, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    3. Nanning Qingxiushan Scenic and Historic Tourism Development Co., Ltd, Nanning Botanical Garden, Nanning 530029
    4. Collection & Conservation Department, Horticulture Center, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650
  • Received:2021-12-01 Accepted:2022-03-04 Online:2022-07-20 Published:2022-05-23
  • Contact: Xiuyan Feng,Xun Gong


Background & Aim: Cycads include two families and 10 genera, representing one of the most primitive taxa of the extant seed plants, and hold important value to scientific research and conservation. Among cycads, only about 20 species within the genus Cycas have a natural distribution within China, most of which are also endemic to China. These species are primarily found in the southwest and southeast coast of China, with most occupying a narrowly distributed area. All species in this group of Cycas have been classified as first-class national key protected wild plants in China due to the existence of serious threats to their survival and reproduction. In this review, we aim to familiarize members of the public with these important plants while also encouraging their protection.
Methods: This paper summarizes the status of research and protection of cycads in China by aggregating data available from the published literature and our field investigations.
Result: By summarizing the taxonomic research and geographical distribution of cycads in China, we highlight the principal threats to the survival of cycads in China and describe protective measures that can be used to counter these threats. Further, we suggest that certain scientific evidence, such as genetic characteristics, are critical factors when determining effective methods of protection.
Conclusion & Suggestions: We summarize five main issues related to the scientific research and conservation of cycads in China: (1) further research into the basic science of cycads is required, (2) the destruction of natural cycad habitats is a serious concern, (3) illegal harvesting and trafficking of cycads remain rampant, while legitimate cycad gardening and horticultural breeding businesses are in need of expansion, (4) certain biological characteristics of cycads lead to reproductive difficulties, (5) there are inherent difficulties in ex situ conservation for guaranteeing the preservation of germplasm purity among species of cycads. In addition, we propose specific solutions for these issues in order to provide a reference for improving research, protection, and the sustainable legal utilization of cycads in China in the future.

Key words: Cycas, diversity, conservation effectiveness and recommendations, species and distribution