Nan Gongshan National Park - Wild ban li!

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We would stop at Nan Gongshan National Park to have lunch.  As luck would have it, the mayor of Ankang was also dining at Nan Gongshan that afternoon.  There were TV cameras, regular cameras, and many handlers for the mayor.  Mr. Fang wei Feng was the consummate politician.  He spoke with us for several minutes, extolling the many natural wonders of the area and letting us know how interested he was in chestnut trees.  He actually was a pleasure to meet him.

After meeting the mayor and eating much, much, much more food than is really good for any one person, we set off into the park.  Our first stop would be up to the temple in the park.  Unfortunately, about half-way up the mountain, we encountered some nasty fog which lasted the all the way to the top.  So our view of the temple and anything from the mountain was quite obscured.

We didn't have any time to tour the temple since it was already early afternoon.  With the fog settling in, we knew - and were told - that it would be too dangerous to try and scale the mountains of the area to take data on chesntut trees.  The combination of 80 degree (!!) slope, skree, and pea-soup fog was just too risky.  So we decided to make our way to a fog-free zone to see what we could find.  We actually did see a lot of trees.

In fact, it was here that we saw what we could absolutely, positively be certain were wild Chinese chestnut trees.  But it was also at this point that our hosts told us something a little sad, at least for this trip.  Mr. Chen basically said that if we really wanted to see a lot of wild Chinese and possibly large chestnut trees, that we would need at least a week in the area.  He noted that we would need to backpack in about a day, camp out, and explore a couple of different sites.

Sign me up!!

But we were able to take some general measurements on about 10 more trees before it was too dark to continue.  At that point, we would head back to Lan Gao where we would eat another huge meal and stay for the night.


Meeting the mayor of Ankang at Nan Gongshan National Park.  The mayor, Mr. Fang wei Feng is the white shirt between Kim and Fred P.

2008, 09-19, C. henryi 65 ft. tall, Nan Gongshan Park a.JPG 
After coming down from the temple side, we started our data collection at a small set of Castanea henryi.  These trees appear to have been damaged during recent road construction.

2008, 09-19, C. henryi, Nan Gongshan Park.JPG

Larger Castanea henryi just down the road from the trees above.  This tree was in very good health and quite large for the area, about 65' tall and around 13-15" dbh.


Rock pile leading to C. henryi above.  The slopes here were very steep, approaching 80°+ in places.  As shown in this picture, leaves on this tree were right down to the ground and easily accessible for appropriate species identification.


Burs of Castanea mollissima, just down the road from C. henryi above.  Again, this tree is located down a very steep and rocky slope that leads to a stream below.  As I recall, the slope made this tree inaccessible for measurement. 


This is a view across the ravine from the main road along which we were measuring trees.  Across the ravine, from what we were told, is a forest just full of chestnuts, especially Castanea mollissima and C. henryi.  If you click on this picture and zoom in, you may be able to pick out the chestnuts by looking for trees with burs on them.  They were probably 20% of the trees we could view from the road on the other side.

2008, 09-19, Nan Gongshan Park, Shaanxi f.JPG

Fog settling in over Nan Gongshan Park.  It tracked us all the way down throughout the afternoon and early evening.

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This page contains a single entry by SARA FITZSIMMONS published on October 8, 2008 2:32 PM.

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