Volume 4

(December 1998)

한국식물전문가그룹 뉴스레터


Yong-Shik Kim, Chair

Korean Plants Specialist Group, SSC

The rapid and massive decline in Korean plant diversity date back to the mid 1960s, following the government initiating its powerful and rapid economic development programme. The concern for nature conservation by the government was one of the leading encouragements for nature conservation. However, the Korean people during this period of economic development have become increasingly isolated from nature. The natural vegetation and native plant habitats have been subject to great loss. The Korean government supported by academic groups has undertaken efforts to save these resources; however, the continued economic development has largely overwhelmed all of these efforts.

Plant conservation, although strongly supported by national legislation, is not sufficiently developed. Whilst the legal framework was established, the mechanism and the strategy for plant conservation has yet to be installed. There is an urgent need to co-ordinate the initiatives of the Ministry of Environment with the increasing numbers of concerned individuals and agencies to establish a strong and effective national structure.

The conservation of biodiversity is a global priority. The conservation of plants in Korea at both national and regional levels needs interdisciplinary approaches. In this context, the Korean government bodies as well as conservation organizations must deliberate on the best policies to conserve plant diversity for the next millenium. Korea’s plant diversity is threatened by accelerating habitat loss and ecosystem degradation. An urgent consideration is the establishment of a national database for holding and managing data on the field status of species. The integrated database of the collected information must be managed and updated gradually. This would involve the NGOs in the local areas to undertake field surveys to support such a project.

One of the responsibilities of the Korean Plants Specialist Group is to pioneer the conservation of Korean plant diversity, not just the rare plants. The KPSGs Workshop for plant conservation in October 1999 will be a milestone contributing the plant conservation of Korea.


Bong-Chan Kim

Chejudo Island is located between longitude 33°15`-33° 25', and latitude 128° 03`-128° 25' with an area of 1,825 km2 Mount Halla is the highest peak in South Korea with an altitude of 1,950m. Chejudo Island is well-known for the diverse flora with altitudinal zonation of vegetation through sub-tropical, temperate and sub-alpine zone (Kim, 1991).

The number of plant species on Chejudo Island is about 1,453 taxa, equating to 36% of the Korean species total of approximately 4,000 taxa. Chejudo Island has 74 endemic taxa (Lee, 1985), or 5.1% of the islands flora, although this figure varies between researchers. Chejudo Island is located geographically between the Korean peninsular, south-eastern China and Japanese archipelago; accordingly Chejudo Island is the subject of immigration and evolution of plant diversity. Chejudo Island is phytogeographically important incorporating southern elements such as Asplenium anticuum, Adina rubella and Magnolia kobus in the lowland, elements shared with Japan and southern China. The northern elements such as Diapensia lapponica var. obovata, Empetrum nigrum var. japonicum and Megaleranthis saniculifolia that grow on the alpine zone of the island (Im, 1992).

The population of Chejudo Island is just about a half million, while four millions of tourists visits Chejudo Island every year. This results in the rapid degradation of natural vegetation around the mountain trail especially on the sub-alpine zone of Mount Halla. Also the increasing collection of rare plants and the increasing tourist facilities threaten the habitat of rare and endangered plant species.

The present situations of rare plants by the types of vegetation

1. Coastal Plant Zone

This zone is located in the areas within an altitude of 100m. The average temperature of the year is 15 ℃, the warmest temperature zone in Korea. This zone consists of the coastal rock community of Euphorbia jolkini, with Aster spathulifolius; a dune community includes sand fields of the beaches resort areas, where the species such as Ixeris repens and Calystegia soldanella, etc are growing together. Notable species include Villebrunea frutescens in the western area, Crinum asiaticum var. japonicum in the eastern area, Persicaria chinense and Saccharum arenicola in the southern area and Hibiscus hamabo, Canavalia lineata, Paliurus ramosissimus are scarce around the coasts (Kim, 1992).

2. Secondary Grassland Zone

This zone, between an altitude of 100m and 900m, consists of anthropogenic grassland established through burning for pasture over the last 700-800 years. This area is adjacent to both a rural area in Namcheju-gun and Pukcheju-gun, and an urban area in Cheju City and Soguipo City. Vegetation consists of a Miscanthus sinensis community and Themeda triandra var. japonica community and the Zoysia japonica community, the level before succession starts. One of the endemic species, Ligularia taquetii is distributed in the southern grassland; and northern element species such as Stellera rosea, found in southern Korea and Japan, is found on the parasite volcano cone. Rare plant species such as Sausurus chinensis, Brasenia scheberi and Nymphoides coreana grows in small ponds in the wetland or grassland in the volcano craters.

3. Broad-leaved Evergreen Forest Zone

This zone is found at an altitude of 900m with a belt-shaped or spot-shaped in the secondary grassland of the valleys and an uninhabited islands. Southern islands and some parts of southern coastal area are the northern boundary of sub-tropical forest zone. Chejudo Island is protected well compare to other areas. In the places such as Donneko Valley, around of the Chonjiyon Pond, and Chonjaeyon Valley, the forests, which have communities containing some southern element of species of Lauraceae and evergreen oaks as dominant plant species are amongst the best protected areas.

One of the notable rare plant species, Prunus yedoensis grows at the edge of the mixed forest between an altitude of 400m and 800m. There are only 33 individuals, and some of them have been protected as one of the natural monuments of Korea (Kim, 1997).

1) Elaeocarpus sylvestris var. ellipticus Community

This community is located both in the valley around the coasts and in uninhabited islands, found in the lowest altitude areas of the islands broad-leaved evergreen forests. The dominant plant species in this community are Elaeocarpus sylvestris var. ellipticus, Myrica rubra, Daphniphyllum glaucescens, Raphiolepis umbellata, Litsea japonica, Euonymus japonica in the upper story, Arisaema ringens and Ardisia pusilla, etc. especially subtropical ferns such as Diplazium wichurae, Colysis simplicifrons, Diplazium subsinuatum and Lastrea subochthodes in the herbaceous layer. Also, the habitat of Asplenium antiquum has been protected as a natural monument of Korea and as one of the protected species by Environment Preservation Law. The plant species of Psilotus nudum grows naturally on the Sopsom (islet), the northern limit of distribution for the species. Approximately 10 individuals of Osmanthus insularis grow in the area of the Pukcheju-gun.

2) Castanopsis cuspidata var. sieboldii-Quercus salicina Community

This zone is located along the valley between an altitude of 200m and 900m. Dominant species include Castanopsis cuspidata var. sieboldii, Quercus salicina, Quercus acuta, Daphiphyllum macropodum, Camellia japonica, Dendropanax morbifera, Cinnamomum japonicum, and Machilus japonicus on the upper layer and Ardisia japonica, Ardisia crenata, Calanthe discolor and Rumohra amabilis in the herbaceous layer. One of the natural monuments, Cymbidium kanran grows naturally in the area. The habitats and range of Euchresta japonica, Chlorathus glabra and Cymbidium nipponicum are the species where the distribution is limited.

3) Quercus glauca-Mallotus japonicus Community

Located in the cultivated land areas and the secondary grassland between 200m and 500m altitude with spot-shaped pattern of distribution. This area has been protected from cultivation and fire damage by natural lava formations (Yang et al., 1990). Nevertheless, this habitat has been modified more than the Castanopsis cuspidata var. sieboldii-Quercus salicina community due to the nearby village. A young growth of Quercus glauca, Quercus glauca, Mallotus japonicus, Idesia polycarpa, Viburnum dilatata, and Acer palmatum is dominating with Cinnamomum camphora, Quercus gilva, Daphne kiusiana, Actinidia rufa and Marsdenia tomentosa as uncommon and scarce components.

4. Deciduous Forest

This is located between 900m and 1,400m altitude within the national park. The plant species such as Carpinus laxiflora, Quercus serrata and Quercus mongolica, etc in the upper layer, and Sasa quelpaertensis, Rumohra standishii, Dryopteris crassirhizoma, and Hosta minor are dominant species in the herbaceous layer. Both Magnolia kobus and Schisandra nigra, as Japanese elements, are notable species. Rare species in this zone include Galeola septentrionalis, Gatrodia elata, Magnolia kobus and Schisandra nigra.

5. Sub-alpine Vegetation Zone

Consists of Abies koreana forest and sub-alpine grassland between an altitude of 1,400m and 1,950m. Dominant tree species are Abies koreana, Betula ermanii var. saitoana and Pinus densiflora, and Empetrum nigrum var. japonicum in the sub-alpine highland, Juniperus chinensis var. sargentii, Rhododendron mucronulatum var. ciliatum, Deschamsia caespitosa and Allium taquetii, etc in the sub-alpine grassland. Rare species such as Diapensia lapponica var. ovobata, Empetrum nigrum var. japonicum, and Tofiedia fauriei although these were subject to grazing until the 1980s. About 40 endemic species are recorded from Mount Halla including Symplocos coreana, Abies koreana, Berberis amurensis, Leontopodium hallaisanense and Anaphalis sinica ssp. morii. grow.

Factors of Threats

Before the 1970s, almost all the forests, especially the areas between an altitude of 200m and 900m in Chejudo Island, had been destroyed by cutting trees for fuel wood and timbers, and by grass burning to improve pastures. Although these factors are declining the island vegetation is still threatened with destruction by the threats of collection, erosion and urban development.

1. Coastal Area and Low Lands

The main threats in this zone are the illegal mass collecting of rare plants and by the construction of road works and tourist facilities. The number of rare plants grow around the villages in the coasts are decreasing by cutting or use of herbicides. Mass collections have resulted in the local extinction of Asplenium antiquum, a species designated as natural monument in the Sopsom (Islet). Also Cymbidium kanran is threatened, however an Environment Preservation Law forbids collection. However illegal collection of species such as Aerides japonicum, Neofinetia falcata, Sarcanthus scolopendrifolius, Calanthe discolor and Calanthe striata do appear to be increasing. This sub-tropical vegetation is unique in Korea and a national conservation priority. The area includes species covered by Environment Preservation Law, the species such as Hibiscus hamabo and Paliurus ramosissimus. Species protected by the Environment Preservation Law, Sausurus chinensis, Isoetes japonica and Brasenia schreberi, etc have disappeared since a ponds in the sub-tropical areas where Sausurus chinensis have grown was filled by soil.

2. Alpine Zone

According to data from the Mount Halla National Park Office, the destruction of the vegetation around the mount trails is a serious problem. Over half a million people visit Mount Halla every year and an increasing rate at 10-20% per year. The erosion from visitors is filling the wetland around the Paeknokdam (Lake at the summit). Natural restoration processes are not sufficient to counter the damage. The vegetation of alpine ground cover plants is being destroyed seriously, many of the mountain trails have modified the landscape of the valley. he

introduction of soil for restoration from the lowlands of the island since 1977 can in itself cause damage through the introduction of invasive plants and harmful microorganisms. The proposed installation of a cable car for the visitors to the peak of the Mount Halla will cause further serious damage of natural vegetation.


The Mount Halla was designated as a national park in 1970 with an area of 151 km2 in 1970, and as one of the nature reserves with its 91 km2. Important plant species such as Asplenium antiquum, Crinum asiaticum var. japonicum, Prunus yedoense, Cinnamomum camphora, Elaeocarpus sylvestris var. ellipticus and Cymbidium kanran, etc were designated as

natural monuments in 1960. International interests in the conservation of plant ecosystem of Chejudo Island are increasing, the IUCN has designated Mount Halla National Park and Mount Halla Nature Reserves as CPD(Centres of Plant Diversity) Site EA 44 (WWW and IUCN, 1994-1995). A total of 52 plant species including Cymbidium kanran, Aerides japonicum, Ranunculus kazusensis, Cotoneaster wilsonii and Diapensis lapponica var. obovata, etc are legally prohibited from illicit collecting and the destruction of habitat by the strongly modified Environment Preservation Law in 1997. A total of 27 plant species in Chejudo Island are protected by the Environment Preservation Law(Table 1).





Table 1. The list of legally protected plant species in Chejudo Island.

Scientific names



Psilotum nudum(L.) Gruseb.

Elevation at ca. 100m, Epiphytes, WTF


Isotes japonica A. Braun

Elevation at ca. 100-300m, Wetland


Asplenium antiquum Makino

Elevation at ca. 50m, WTF


Crypsinus hastatus (Thunb.) Copel

Elevation at ca. 200-800m, WTF & Epiphytes


Crinum asiaticum var. japonicum Bak.

Elevation at ca. 0-10m, Coastal Plants


Galeola septentrionalis Reichb. Fil.

Elevation at ca. 600-1,400m, TF


Vexillabium nakaianum F. Maekawa

Elevation at ca. 600-1,400m, TF


Gastrodia elata Blume

Elevation at ca. 600-1400m, TF


Cymbidium niponicum Makino

Elevation at ca. 200-300m, WTF


Sedirea japonica Gray et Sweet

Elevation at ca. 100m, Epiphytes, WTF


Cymbidium kanran Makino

Elevation at ca. 400-800m, WTF


Sarcanthus scolopendrifolius Makino

Elevation at ca. 200-300m, WFT


Neofinetia falcata (Thunb.) Hu

Elevation at ca.100-500m, Epiphytes, WTF


Saururus chinensis (Lour.) Baillon

Elevation at ca. 200-300m, Wetland


Chloranthus glaber (Thunb.) Makino

Elevation at ca. 200-300m, WTF


Quercus gilva Blume

Elevation at ca. 200-300m, WTF


Brasenia schreberi J. F. Gmelin

Elevation at ca. 200-300m, Wetland Aquatic


Cinnamomum camphora Sieb.

Elevation at ca. 200-300m, WTF


Prunus yedoensis Matsumura

Elevation at ca. 400-800m, WTF


Euchresta japonica Benth

Elevation at ca. 300-400m, WTF


Paliurus rasmosissimus (Lour.) Poiret

Elevation at ca. 0-30m, Coastal Plants


Elaeocarpus sylvestris var. ellipticus Hara

Elevation at ca. 20-50m, WTF


Hibiscus hamabo Sieb. et Zucc.

Elevation at ca. 0-30m, Coastal Plants


Osmanthus insularis Koidz.

Elevation at ca. 0-30m, WTF


Diapensia lapponica L. var. obovata Fr. Schmidt

Elevationat ca. 1800-1950m, Subalpine


Lasianthus japonicus Miq.

Elevation at ca. 300m, WTF


Cymbidium lancifolium Hook

Elevation at ca. 400-600m, WTF


NR: Nature Reseve, EPL: Environment Preservation Law, NM: Natural Monuments

TF: Temperate Forest, WTF: Warm Temperate Forest


Litreature Cited

Im, H. T. 1992. Plant geographical study for the plant of Cheju. Korean Journal of Plant Taxonomy 22(1): 219-234..

Kim, C. S. 1997. Distribution and taxonomic of Prunus yedoensis Matsumura. Department of Biology, Graduate School, Cheju National University, Cheju.

Kim, C. S. & M. H. Kim. 1985. Phytosociological study of grassland and shrub on subalpine zone in Mount Halla. Report of the Academic Survey of Hallasan(Mt.) Nature Reserve, Chejudo. pp. 311-330.

Kim, M. H. 1985. Flora of vascular plants in Cheju. Report of the Academic Survey of Hallasan(Mt.) Nature Reserve. pp. 243-298.

Kim, M. H. 1991. Phytosociological studies on the vegetation in Chejudo Island. Korean Journal of Ecology 14(1): 39-48.

Lee, T. B. 1985. Endemic and rare plants of Mount Halla. Journal of Agricultural Resources, College of Agriculture, Seoul National University, Vol. 10(2-1): 1-16.

WWW and IUCN. 1994-1995. Centres of plant diversity: A guide and strategy for their conservation. 3 volumes. IUCN Publications Unit, Cambridge, UK. pp. 145-203.

Yang, Y. H., B. C. Kim & M. H. Kim. 1990. Phytosociological studies on the vegetation in Chejudo Island. II. Secondary broad-leaved forests. Journal of Basic Sciences, Cheju National University 1: 37-48.

* MR BONG-CHAN KIM is a member of the KPSG and a specialist for fern and rare plants of Chejudo Island. Mr Kim is working as a horticulturist at the Yomiji Botanical Garden, Soguipo City, Cheju-do, Korea


Korean Plant Conservation Workshop

The Korean Plants Specialist Group will hold a workshop for the plant conservation from October 4 to 8, 1999 at the International Hall of Yeungnam University, Kyongsan. This meeting will enhance the practical conservation works in Korea, and the 15 papers on every aspect for plant conservation will present for the workshop. Also the delegations from the IUCNs SSC, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and University of Reading, UK will be attend the workshop. The field excursion to the two Korean national parks as well as visit to the Ministry of Environment, Office of Forestry and the Korean National Park Authority will be due after the meeting.

IUCN Korea Organized

The Korean Committee of the World Conservation Union organized in December 28, 1998. Professor Dr Chong-Il Choi was elected as the President of the IUCN Korea. The IUCN Korea will lead a role to the conservation of nature in Korea. The most of personnel and organizations for conservation in Korea were participated to enhance the activities the IUCN in Korea. After get an official recognition from the IUCN in this year, the first mission will support the IUCNs CNPPA meeting in September 1999 in Seoul.

Biodiversity Conservation in Chejudo Island

The Korean Association for Conservation of Nature carried out various academic works and published for the output, in 1998, for vegetation, herpetofauna, insect fauna, palynology, wetland, bog and parasitic volcano in Chejudo(Quelpart Island).

New Book on Rare and Endangered Plants of Korea

Dr Yu-Mee Lee recently published the book entitled “Rare and Endangered Plants of Korea”. Dr Lee is the committee member of the KPSG and works at the Kwangnung Arboretum, Kyonggi-do, Korea.



Dr Chin-Sung CHANG

Seoul National University, Suwon, Kyonggi-do

Tel: +82 331 290 2322

Fax: +82 331 293 1797


Dr Seung-Hoon CHUN

Kyungwon University, Songnam, Kyonggi-do

Tel:+82 342 750 5263 Fax: +82 342 750 5273


Dr Ho-Dok KANG

Office of Forestry, Taejon

Tel: +82 42 481 4141 Fax: +82 42 481 4009


Mr Bong-Chan KIM

Yomiji Botanical Garden, Soguipo, Cheju-do

Tel: +82 64 738 1030 Fax: +82 64 738 2992

Mr Sang-Hoon KIM

Ministry of Environment, Kwachon, Kyonggi-do

Tel: +82 2 504 9286 500 4266-7

Fax: +82 2 504 9282

Dr Yong-Shik KIM

Yeungnam University, Kyongsan,


Tel: +82 53 810 2975 Fax: +82 53 813 6470


Dr Eun-Bok LEE

Hanseo University, Sosan, Chungchongnam-do

Tel: +82 455 660 1110

Fax: +82 455 688 1615

Dr Yu-Mee LEE

Kwangnung Arboretum, Pochon, Kyonggi-do

Tel: +82 357 540 1159 Fax: +82 357 31 3897


Dr Jung-Soo SEO

Korean Association for Conservation of Nature, Seoul

Tel: +82 2 383 0694 Fax: +82 2 383 0695


Mr Yong-Sok SHIN

Korean National Parks Authority, Taean, Chungchongnam-do

Tel: +82 455 672 9737

Fax: +82 455 672 4108


COVER PHOTO: Fruit of Abeliophyllum distichum Nakai, Oleaceae. One of the Korean endemic and unique genus, this species is threatened from a projected works and illegal collections. Photo by Yong-Shik Kim at Yulchi-ri of Chungchongpuk-to Province, one of 6 native populations in Korea.


THE KPSG NEWSLETTER is published four times a year in March, June, September and December to promoting of information exchanges concerning on the plant conservation. The first of three issues for a year are prepared in Korean, and the edition of December in English. If you want to receive the KPSG Newsletter, please send your name and address to the chair of the KPSG, Dr Yong-Shik Kim, Department of Landscape Architecture, College of Natural Resources, Yeungnam University, Kyongsan 712-749, Republic of Korea (Telephone: +82 53 810 2975, Facssimile: +82 53 813 6470, E-mail:



Copyright (c) 1998. Hyun-Tak Shin All rights reserved