Thursday, 10 May 2012


Several species of Aspidistra inhabit the floors of east Asian forests from eastern India, Indochina, China and Japan. Aspidistra is a genus that has been ignored by field botanists until quite recently, and there has been a very rapid rise in the number of recognised species in recent years.

Many books state that there are eight to ten species, which repeats the knowledge of the late 1970s. In the 1980s, thirty new species were described from China.

Based on current knowledge, China has the most species with some fifty-nine, of which fifty-four are endemic. The biodiversity 'hotspot' of the genus seems to be Guangxi Province, from where no fewer than thirty-nine species have been recorded.

New species are still being found, and the focus has shifted to Vietnam, from where 28 new species have recently been described; it is known that there are many more Vietnamese species. Currently 93 Aspidistra species have been formally described, and it has been speculated that there may be between two and three hundred. (Tillich 2008).

It has long been erroneously assumed that slugs and snails pollinate Aspidistra flowers. Research in Japan has shown that tiny terrestrial crustaceans called amphipods are responsible for pollinating Aspidistra elatior.
Australian amphipods have also been shown to pollinate introduced Aspidistra sp. and collembolans may also be implicated. Fungus gnats have also been suggested as possible pollinators.

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