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Formosa (Island) 1911 Profile, #02: Flora and Fauna



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The vegetation of the island is characterized by tropical luxuriance,-the moutainous regions being clad with dense forest, in which various species of palms, the camphor-tree (Laurus Camplaora), and the aloe are conspicuous. Consul R. Swinhoe obtained no fewer than 65 different kinds of timber from a large yard in Taiwanfu; and his specimens are now to be seen in the museum at Kew. The tree which supplies the materials for the pith paper of the Chinese is not uncommon, and the cassia tree is found in the mountains. Travellers are especially struck with the beauty of some of the wild flowers, more especially with the lilies and convolvuluses; and European greenhouses have been enriched by several Formosan orchids and other ornamental plants. The pine-apple grows in abundance. In the lowlands of the western portion, the Chinese have introduced a large number of cultivated plants and fruit trees. Rice is grown in such quantities as to procure for Formosa, in former days, the title of the " granary of China "; and the sweet potato, taro, millet, barley, wheat and maize are also cultivated. Camphor, sugar, tea, indigo, ground peanuts, jute, hemp, oil and rattans are all articles of export.

The Formosan fauna has been but partially ascertained; but at least three kinds of deer, wild boars, bears, goats, monkeys (probably Macacus speciosus), squirrels, and flying squirrels are fairly common, and panthers and wild cats are not unfrequent. A poisonous but beautiful green snake is often mentioned by travellers. Pheasants, ducks, geese and snipe are abundant, and Dr C. Collingwood in his Naturalist's Rambles in the China Seas mentions .Ardea prasinosceles and other species of herons, several species of fly-catchers, kingfishers, shrikes and larks, the black drongo, the Cotyle sinensis and the Prinia sonitans. Dogs are kept by the savages for hunting. The horse is hardly known, and his place is taken by the ox, which is regularly bridled and saddled and ridden with all dignity. The rivers and neighbouring seas seem to be well stocked with fish, and especial mention must be made of the turtles, flying-fish, and brilliant I coral-fish which swarm in the waters warmed by the Kurosiwo current, the gulf-stream of the Pacific. Shell-fish form an important article of diet to both the Chinese and the aborigines along the coast-a species of Cyrena, a species of Tapes, Cytheraea petechiana and Modiola teres being most abundant.

NOTE: This article is an historical reference based on the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, now in the Public Domain. The text is provided through scanning and OCR conversion. There may be transcription errors in the article. Encyclopedia style: 1) For reasons of cost and academic writing style, the paragraphs are long in length. 2) Contributors to articles are sometimes identified by their initials in parentheses at the end of the article. 3) Some articles include a section called "Authorities," a record of all the sources used when writing the article. 4) Information is based on knowledge available in 1911 and may be inaccurate, especially in the areas of science, law, and ethnography. 5) Images and diagrams from the original are not included with article. 6) Do not use this information for medical or legal guidance or any research requiring current information.

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      "Formosa," Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 19, (11th ed.), (New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911); digital edition, (http://mygenshare.com : posted 15 Jan 2013)

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