Adaptability of Rhododendron species to climate and growth conditions at Lushan Botanical Garden

S. Wang, J. Van Huylenbroeck, L.-H. Zhang
China is one of the centers of origin for Rhododendron with 571 reported species. Recently, Wang et al. (2018) developed a strategy which allows to connect data present in Rhododendron herbarium specimens with other existing information from i.e., soil or climate databases. Hereby predictions on the potential value of certain wild species and their possibility to adapt to certain regions or climate conditions can be made. In Jiangxi province, located in the southeast of China, Lushan Botanic Garden (LBG) is a subtropical alpine botanical garden. In the herbarium database of Wang et al. (2018) 735 specimens belonging to 35 species originate from Jiangxi Province. The distribution map showed that these were mainly found in the mountainous region of the province. In order to explore the adaptability mechanism of Rhododendron to specific climatic conditions in Lushan, we studied the rhododendrons from different origins and phylogenetic positions. So far, 328 species have been collected from all over the world, covering 8 subgenera. The adaptability of species from the China-Japan floristic region were superior to that of the China-Himalayan floristic region. Species from the subtropical humid monsoon climate zone adapt better than the species in the subtropical semi-humid climatic zone of South Asia. The species with wide distribution and wide ecological range are more adaptable compared those with a narrower ecological range. The semi-evergreen or deciduous rhododendrons which evolved from the original center in southwest of China to the middle eastern China with low altitude had higher adaptability than the alpine groups. Furthermore, the adaptability of seedlings propagated from seeds collected from original habitats was better than the seedlings directly transplanted from original habitats. These results are valuable information for further breeding and selection of rhododendrons that are adapted to local growing conditions.
Wang, S., Van Huylenbroeck, J. and Zhang, L.-H. (2020). Adaptability of Rhododendron species to climate and growth conditions at Lushan Botanical Garden. Acta Hortic. 1288, 131-138
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1288.20
adaptation, climate, habitat, natural growing condition

Acta Horticulturae