The Dadu Mountain Plateau, known for its grounds covered in red clay, has rather limited options when it comes to cultivating agricultural produce. Xerophytic crops such as sweet potato, sugar cane, peanut, white radish, and sesame are common alternatives among farmers here. In fact, the land on which the Taichung Metropolitan Park is located was once a substantial sugar cane farm previously owned by the Taiwan Sugar Co. Commonly found feral trees on the plateau, such as Taiwan Acacia , Bead Tree, Formosan Date Palm,and the Symplocaceae family of trees, are also xerophytes as well. Besides vascular plants, a grass called Panicum maximum Jacq. of the Poaceae family of flowering plants, introduced to Taiwan from the Philippines by the Japanese during WWII as horse feed, or “horse grass” as it was commonly called, dominates the wide expanse of the plateau’s unique prairie landscape.
In addition to wild growth on the plateau, the construction of the Taichung Metropolitan Park has also systematically introduced a diverse group of 328 species in 99 families of endemic and foreign vascular, shrubs, and ground covering plants. The result is a man-made flora ecosystem that flowers and fruits in all seasons. Not only is this new botanical environment educational to the casual and sophisticated visitors, it also provides a habitat for wild animals and insects that further enriches the plateau’s natural environment.
Based on their growth area and habitat requirements, the plants in the park can be grouped into the following categories: street plants, flowering plants, leafy plants, fruit plants, ground cover herbaceous plants, aquatic plants, and endemic plants. Although most of the plants in the park were new growth at the completion of the park, over the years they have adapted well to their new home and prospered to become full-grown shady trees capable of supporting its many roles that contribute to the improved quality of our living environment. For example, they help conserve water, condition the climate, reduce pollution, and provide habitats for a diverse group of wildlife. In all, the flora ecosystem today generates the energy essential to sustain the park’s mission to be the heart of metropolitan Taichung.
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