Picea retroflexa Masters


Native to western China where logging has depleted the population and subsequently fire and grazing have restricted regeneration.

Associated Names:


Native to China in the provinces of: Sichuan (Kangding and Jiuzhaigou in the Zheduo Shan) and Qinghai (Ban Ma Xian)

The subpopulation near Jiuzhaigou has an estimated 450 trees but the sizes of other subpopulations are unknown.

Habitat and Ecology

Picea retroflexa is a typical subalpine species, which occurs between 3000 to 4000 metres above sea-level. (to 4700m east of Dawu, Schmidt-Vogt, 1977), mainly on N-facing slopes on acidic soils. The climate is continental alpine with low annual precipitation. At the highest elevations it grows either pure or mixed with Abies squamata, but at lower elevations Picea likiangensis var. rubescens, P. aurantiaca, Abies chensiensis and Tsuga chinensis may occur with it. Betula albosinensis is the only common broad-leaved tree species in these forests.

Human Uses

Although no uses are specifically reported of this species, its timber has been exploited together with that of other species in the area and put to the same uses. This spruce was introduced to Europe and the USA by Ernest Wilson and is still present in several arboreta, often identified as P. asperata.

Conservation Status

Global status

Endangered A2cd

Global rationale

The available evidence supports a considerable past decline in the population of Picea retroflexa but a currently stable situation. Accordingly Endangered under criterion A2 provides the most accurate category of threat on the current evidence.

Global threats

Intensive unsustainable logging of montane and subalpine forests during the period from 1950 to 1990 (Ryavec & Winkler, 2006), coupled with the limited range of this taxon has led to a significant recent decline that is estimated to be at least 50%. An ongoing decline is suspected due to fires and grazing preventing natural regeneration and hampering afforestation efforts.

Conservation Actions

The Government of China has recently imposed a ban on logging in western China. One subpopulation is within Jiuzhaigou Valley Nature Reserve