Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (2): 269-278.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2016.0255

• Forum • Previous Articles    

An update of the vegetation classification in China

Yong-Chang SONG, En-Rong YAN*(), Kun SONG   

  1. School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
  • Received:2016-08-02 Accepted:2016-11-27 Online:2017-03-16 Published:2017-02-10
  • Contact: En-Rong YAN
  • About author:KANG Jing-yao(1991-), E-mail:


The vegetation classification in China was updated by referring to recent advances for vegetation classification worldwide and on the basis of our former paper Recognition and Proposal on the Vegetation Classification System of China (hereafter, “Recognition and Proposal”). In this revision, the criteria for vegetation classification were discussed and unified, and a quantified standard for high, medium, and low level units in a new hierarchical classification scheme was supplemented. Compared with the old classification scheme in “Recognition and Proposal”, the units at the level of vegetation type were substantially changed. Finally, in order to improve mutual communication among international peers, a comparison was carried out between the new revised scheme and each of International Classification and Mapping of Vegetation of UNESCO, The National Vegetation Classification Standard of United States, and The Braun-Blanquet Classification Scheme.

Key words: vegetation classification, vegetation type, formation, association, suggested scheme

Table 1

Comparison between “recommend scheme” and “80 classification scheme” for the vegetation classification in China"

80分类方案 80 Classification scheme 建议方案 Recommend scheme
高级单位(生态外貌) High level (Eco-physiognomic)
植被纲 Class of vegetation types
植被亚纲 Subclass of vegetation types
植被型组 Group of vegetation types 植被型组 Group of vegetation types
植被型 Vegetation type 植被型 Vegetation type
植被亚型 Vegetation subtype 植被亚型 Vegetation subtype
中级单位(区系特征, 着重优势种组成) Midle level (Floristc, emphasizing dominant species)
群系组 Formation group 集群 Collective group
群系 Formation 优势度型 Dominant type
亚群系 Subformation 优势度亚型 Dominant subtype
低级单位(区系特征, 着重标志种组) Low level (Floristic, emphasizing symbol species)
群丛 Association 群丛 Association

Appendix I

High level units (1-4) of the vegetation classification in China"

1级 Class 1 2级 Class 2 3级 Class 3 4级 Class 4
Class of vegetation types
Subclass of
vegetation types
Group of vegetation types
Vegetation type
I. 针叶林
1. 落叶针叶林
Deciduous needle-leaved forest
1)典型寒温性落叶针叶林(地带性, 气候顶极)
Typical cold-temperate deciduous needle-leaved forest (Zonality, climatic climax)
Montane cold-temperate deciduous needle-leaved forest (Subalpine vertical zone)
Warm deciduous needle-leaved forest (Relict community)
2. 常绿针叶林
Evergreen needle-leaved forest
4)典型寒温性常绿针叶林(地带性, 气候顶极)
Typical cold-temperate evergreen needle-leaved forest (Zonality, climatic climax)
Montane cold-temperate evergreen needle-leaved forest (Subalpine vertical zone)
6)温性常绿针叶林(地带性, 偏途顶极)
Temperate evergreen needle-leaved forest (Zonality, disclimax)
7)暖性常绿针叶林(地带性, 偏途顶极)
Warm evergreen needle-leaved forest (Zonality, disclimax)
8)热性常绿针叶林(地带性, 偏途顶极)
Torrid evergreen needle-leaved forest (Zonality, disclimax)
II. 针阔叶混交林
needle-broad leaved forest
3. 针阔叶混交林
Mixed needle-broad leaved forest
9)典型凉温性针阔叶混交林(地带性, 气候顶极)
Typical cool-temperate mixed needle-broad leaved forest (Zonality, climatic climax)
Montane mixed needle-broad leaved forest (Montane vertical zone)
11)次生针阔叶混交林(地带性, 偏途顶极)
Secondary mixed needle-broad leaved forest (Zonality, disclimax)
III. 阔叶林
Broad-leaved forest
4. 落叶阔叶林
Deciduous broad-leaved forest
12)典型落叶阔叶林 (地带性, 气候顶极)
Typical deciduous broad-leaved forest (Zonality, climatic climax)
Montane deciduous broad-leaved forest (Montane vertical zone)
14)河岸落叶阔叶林 (地文顶极)
Riverside deciduous broad-leaved forest (Physiographic climax)
15)次生落叶阔叶林 (地带性, 歧顶极)
Secondary deciduous broad-leaved forest (Zonality plaigioclimax)
5. 常绿落叶阔叶混交林
Mixed evergreen
deciduous broad-leaved forest
16)典型常绿落叶阔叶混交林(地带性, 气候顶极)
Typical mixed evergreen deciduous broad-leaved forest (Zonality, climatic climax)
Montane mixed evergreen deciduous broad-leaved forest (Montane vertical zone)
Limestone mixed evergreen deciduous broad-leaved forest (Physiographic climax)
Ravine mixed evergreen deciduous broad-leaved forest (Physiographic climax)
6. 常绿苔藓林
Evergreen mossy forest
Montane dwarf evergreen mossy forest (Montane vertical zone)
7. 常绿硬叶林
Evergreen sclerophyllous forest
Montane evergreen sclerophyllous forest (Montane vertical zone)
Xerothermic valley Evergreen sclerophyllous forest (Physiographic climax)
8. 常绿阔叶林
Evergreen broad-leaved forest
23)典型常绿阔叶林(地带性, 气候顶极)
Typical evergreen broad-leaved forest (Zonality, climatic climax)
24)季节常绿阔叶林(地带性, 气候顶极)
Seasonal evergreen broad-leaved forest (Zonality, climatic climax)
25)适雨常绿阔叶林(亚热带雨林)(地带性, 气候顶极)
Ombrophilous evergreen broad-leaved forest (Zonality, climatic climax)
9. 热带雨林
Tropical rain-forest
26)热带雨林(地带性, 气候顶极)
Tropical rain forest (Zonality, climatic climax)
27)季节热带雨林(地带性, 气候顶极)
Tropical seasonal rain forest (Zonality, climatic climax)
10. 热带季雨林
Tropical monsoon forest
28)落叶季风雨林(地带性, 气候顶极)
Tropical deciduous monsoon forest (Zonality, climatic climax)
29)半落叶季风雨林(地带性, 气候顶极)
Semi-deciduous monsoon forest (Zonality, climatic climax)
11. 热带海岸林
Tropical coastal forest
Mangrove (Physiographic climax)
1级 Class 1 2级 Class 2 3级 Class 3 4级 Class 4
Class of vegetation types
Subclass of
vegetation types
Group of vegetation types
Vegetation type
Coral reef coastal forest (Physiographic climax)
IV. 竹林
Bamboo forest
12. 竹林
Bamboo forest
32)暖性竹林(地带性, 偏途顶极)
Warm bamboo forest (Zonality, disclimax)
33)热性竹林(地带性, 偏途顶极)
Torrid bamboo forest (Zonality, disclimax)
V. 针叶灌丛
Needle-leaved shruland
13. 常绿针叶灌丛
Evergreen needle-leaved shrubland
Subalpine evergreen needle-leaved shrubland (Subalpine vertical zone)
VI. 阔叶灌丛
Broad-leaved shrubland
14. 常绿革叶灌丛
Evergreen sclerophyllous shrubland
Subalpine evergreen sclerophyllous shrubland (Subalpine vertical zone)
15. 落叶阔叶灌丛
Deciduous broad-leaved shrubland
Subalpine deciduous broad-leaved shrubland (Subalpine vertical zone)
37)温性落叶阔叶灌丛(地带性, 歧顶极)
Temperate deciduous broad-leaved shrubland (Zonality, plaigiographic climax)
38)暖性落叶阔叶灌丛(地带性, 歧顶极)
Warm deciduous broad-leaved shrubland (Zonality, plaigiographic climax)
16. 常绿阔叶灌丛
Evergreen broad-leaved shrubland
39)南方丘陵山地常绿阔叶灌丛(地带性, 歧顶极)
Southern hill-montane evergreen broad-leaved shrubland (Zonality, plaigiographic climax)
Seashore island evergreen broad-leaved shrubland (physiographic climax)
VII. 肉质多刺灌丛
Thorn-succulent shrubland
17. 肉刺灌丛
Thorn-succulent shrubland
Tropical seashore thorn-succulent shrubland (physiographic climax)
Xerothermic valley thorn-succulent shrubland (physiographic climax)
VIII. 竹灌丛
Bamboo thicket
18. 竹丛
Bamboo thicket
43)温性竹丛(地带性, 偏途顶极)
Warm bamboo thicket (Zonality, disclimax)
44)暖热性竹丛(地带性, 偏途顶极)
Torrid bamboo thicket (Zonality, disclimax)
Herbaceous vegetation
IX. 旱生草本植被
Xeromophyic herbaceous vegetation
19. 温带草原
Temperate steppe
45)典型草原(地带性, 气候顶极)
Typical steppe (Zonality, climatic climax)
46)草甸草原(地带性, 气候顶极)
Meadow steppe (Zonality, climatic climax)
47)荒漠草原(地带性, 气候顶极)
Desert steppe (Zonality, climatic climax)
20. 高山草原
Alpine steppe
Alpine cold steppe (Alpine vertical zone)
21. 稀树草原
Tropical savanna
Tropical seashore savanna (physiographic climax)
Xerothermic valley savanna (physiographic climax)
X. 中生草本植被
22. 草甸
Continent meadow (physiographic climax)
Flood plain meadow (physiographic climax)
Alpine-subalpine meadow (physiographic climax)
23. 疏灌草坡
Sparse shrub grassland
54)温性疏灌草坡(地带性, 歧顶极)
Temperate sparse shrub grassland (Zonality, plaigioclimax)
55)热性疏灌草坡(地带性, 歧顶极)
Torrid sparse shrub grassland (Zonality, plaigioclimax)
Extreme drought
XI. 荒漠
24. 温带荒漠
Temperate desert
56)灌木小乔木荒漠(地带性, 气候顶极)
Nano-arboreous fruticous dersert (Zonality, climatic climax)
57)小半灌木荒漠(地带性, 气候顶极)
Nano-semifruticous desert (Zonality, climatic climax)
58)一年生草本荒漠(地带性, 气候顶极)
Annual herb desert (Zonality, climatic climax)
25. 高山荒漠
Alpine desert
Nano-semifruticous alpine deserta (Alpine vertical zone)
1级 Class 1 2级 Class 2 3级 Class 3 4级 Class 4
Class of vegetation types
Subclass of
vegetation types
Group of vegetation types
Vegetation type
Extreme frigid vegetation
XII. 高山高寒植被
Alpine cold
26. 高山冻原
Alpine tundra
Dwarf-shrub moss alpine tundra (Alpine vertical zone)
Herb-moss alpine tundra (Alpine vertical zone)
Lichen-moss alpine tundra (Alpine vertical zone)
27. 高山垫状植被
Alpine cushion
Alpine cushion vegetation (Alpine vertical zone)
28. 高山流石堆植被
Alpine scree vegetation
Alpine scree vegetation (physiographic climax)
waterlogging vegetation
XIII. 沼泽
29. 沼泽
65)藓类沼泽 Moss bog
66)草本沼泽 Herbaceous swamp
67)木本沼泽 Woody swamp
XIV. 水生植被
30. 淡水水生植被
Fresh water vegetation
68)沉水植物群落 Submerged plant community
69)漂浮植物群落 Free floating plant community
70)浮叶植物群落 Rooted floating-leaved plant community
71)挺水植物群落 Emergent plant community
31. 咸水水生植被
Salt water vegetation
72)咸水沉水植物群落 Salt water submerged plant community

Table 2

Comparisons between “recommend scheme” and the schemes proposed by the UNESCO (1973), Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC, 2008), and Braun-Blanquet et al. (1932)"

建议方案 (Song, 2011) UNESCO (1973) Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC, 2008) Braun-Blanquet et al. (1932)
植被纲 Vegetation class 群系纲 Formation class 群系纲 Formation class
植被亚纲 Vegetation subclass 群系亚纲 Formation subclass 群系亚纲 Formation subclass
植被型组 Vegetation type group 群系组 Formation group
植被型 Vegetation type 群系 Formation 群系 Formation 群落纲 Class
植被亚型 Vegetation subtype 亚群系 Subformation 门类 Division
集群 Collective group 大组 Macro-group 群落目 Order
组 Group
优势度型 Dominant type 群团 Alliance 群团 Alliance
群丛 Association 群丛 Association 群丛 Association
[1] Beard JS (1985). The physiognomic approach. In: Whittaker RH ed. Translated by Zhou JL. Classification of Plant Communities. Science Press, Beijing. 13, 20-46. (in Chinese)[周纪伦译 (1985). 植物群落分类. 科学出版社, 北京. 13, 20-46.]
[2] Braun-Blanquet J (1932). Translated by Braun-Blanquet J, Fuller GD, Conrad HS. Plant Sociology―The Study of Plant Communities. McGrawhill, New York. 439. (in English)
[3] Faber-Langendoen D, Keeler-Wolf T, Meidinger D, Josse C, Weakley A, Tart D, Navarro G, Hoagland B, Ponomarenko S, Saucier JP, Fults G, Helmer E (2012). Classification and description of world formation types. Part I (Introduction) and Part II (Description of formation types). Hierarchy Revisions Working Group, Federal Geographic Data Committee, FGDC Secretariat, U.S. Geological Survey. Reston, VA, and NatureServe, Arlington, VA.
[4] Faber-Langendoen D, Keeler-Wolf T, Meidinger D, Tart D, Hoagland B, Josse C, Navarro G, Ponomarenko S, Saucier JP, Weakley A, Comer P (2014). EcoVeg: A new approach to vegetation description and classification.Ecological Monographs, 84, 533-561.
[5] Federal Geographic Data Committee, Vegetation Subcommittee (FGDC-VS) (2008). The National Vegetation Classification Standard. Version 2. FGDC-STD-005-2008 (Version 2). 126.
[6] Jennings MD, Faber-Langendoen D, Louckes OL, Peet RK, Roberts D (2009). Standards for associations and alliances of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification.Ecological Monographs, 79, 173-199.
[7] Song YC (2004). Tentative classification scheme of evergreen broad-leaved forests of China. Acta Phytoeclogica Sinica, 28, 435-448. (in Chinese with English abstract)[宋永昌 (2004). 中国常绿阔叶林分类试行方案. 植物生态学报, 28, 435-448.]
[8] Song YC (2011). Recognition and proposal on the vegetation classification system of China.Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology, 35, 882-892. (in Chinese with English abstract)[宋永昌 (2011). 对中国植被分类系统的认知和建议. 植物生态学报, 35, 882-892.]
[9] Song YC, Wang XH, Yan ER (2013). Evergreen Broad-leaved Forest of China―Classification, Ecology, Conservation. Science Press, Beijing. 801, 558. (in Chinese)[宋永昌, 王希华, 阎恩荣 (2013). 中国常绿阔叶林——分类, 生态, 保育. 科学出版社, 北京. 801, 558.]
[10] The Editorial Committee of Vegetation of China (1980). Vegetation of China. Science Press, Beijing. 1375. (in Chinese)[中国植被编辑委员会 (1980). 中国植被. 科学出版社, 北京. 1375.]
[11] United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (1973). International Classification and Mapping of Vegetation. Series 6. Ecology and Conservation. United Nations, Paris, France.
[12] Wang W, Pei H, Wang XT (2016). A logistic analysis on vegetation classification system based on dominant species with an illustrational scheme. Biodiversity Science, 24, 136-147. (in Chinese with English abstract)[王炜, 裴浩, 王鑫厅 (2016). 优势种植被分类系统的逻辑分析与示例方案化. 生物多样性, 24, 136-147.]
[13] Whittaker RH (1985). Dominance-types. In: Whittaker RH ed. Translated by Zhou JL. Classification of Plant Communities. Science Press, Beijing. 47-59. (in Chinese)[周纪伦译 (1985). 植物群落分类. 科学出版社, 北京. 47-59.]
[14] Wilmanns O (1998). Ökologische Pflanzensoziologie 6th edn. Quelle & Meyer Verlag, Wiesbaden. 405. (in German)
[1] Xu yue Shaojun Dai. Agrobacterium rhizogenes-mediated Transformation System of Spinacia oleracea L. [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2019, 54(4): 0-0.
[2] Jiang Huan, Zhang Hui, Long Wenxing, Fang Yanshan, Fu Mingqi, Zhu Kongxin. Interspecific associations and niche characteristics of communities invaded by Decalobanthus boisianus [J]. Biodiv Sci, 2019, 27(4): 388-399.
[3] Li Junhua, Liu Shiyu, Li Chenglong, Han Linlin, Dong Yahui, Zhang Xiaoli, Zhao Xiting, Li Mingjun. Establishment of a Genetic Transformation System for Dioscorea opposita Using Microtuber [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2019, 54(1): 72-80.
[4] Zhu Li, Qian Qian. Astaxanthin Functional Rice: New Idea of Biofortification, New Perspectives for High-quality Rice Breeding [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2019, 54(1): 4-8.
[5] SUN Xiao-Wei,YANG Qing-Song,LIU He-Ming,WANG Xi-Hua. Classification of plant associations based on a 20 hm2 dynamics plot of evergreen broad- leaved forest in Mt. Tiantong, Zhejiang, China [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2018, 42(5): 550-561.
[6] Tianqi Shang, Nuonan Ye, Haiqing Gao, Hongdi Gao, Lita Yi. Community Structure Analysis of a Public Welfare Forest Based on Multivariate Regression Trees [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2018, 53(2): 238-249.
[7] Guodong Wu, Yu Xiu, Huafang Wang. Breeding of MtDREB2A Transgenic Soybean by an Optimized Cotyledonary-Node Method [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2018, 53(1): 59-71.
[8] Juanping Ni,Saisai Cheng,Meixiang Gao,Tingyu Lu,Guangze Jin. Spatial heterogeneities of ground-dwelling Coleoptera adults and their spatial correlations with environmental factors in a typical broad-leaved Korean pine forest in the Fenglin Nature Reserve [J]. Biodiv Sci, 2018, 26(1): 14-26.
[9] MA Zhi-Liang, ZHAO Wen-Qiang, ZHAO Chun-Zhang, LIU Mei, ZHU Pan, LIU Qing. Responses of soil inorganic nitrogen to increased temperature and plant removal during the growing season in a Sibiraea angustata scrub ecosystem of eastern Qinghai-Xizang Plateau [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2018, 42(1): 86-94.
[10] Hu Tianyuan, Wang Rui, Chen Shang, Ma Baowei, Gao Wei, Huang Luqi. Protoplast Isolation and Establishment of Transient Expression System of Tripterygium wilfordii Suspension Culture Cells [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2017, 52(6): 774-782.
[11] Ruijun Duan, Aidong Wang, Guoxiong Chen. Advances in Study of Plant Cuticle Genes [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2017, 52(5): 637-651.
[12] Li Zhu, Qian Qian. Development of “Purple Endosperm Rice” by Engineering Anthocyanin Biosynthesis in Endosperm: Significant Breakthrough in Transgene Stacking System, New Progress in Rice Biofortification [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2017, 52(5): 539-542.
[13] Bo-Liang WEI, Zhi-Liang YUAN, Shuai NIU, Xia LIU, Hong-Ru JIA, Yong-Zhong YE. Effects of tree mortality on the spatial patterns and interspecific associations of plant species in a Quercus aliena var. acuteserrata forest in Baotianman, Henan, China [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2017, 41(4): 430-438.
[14] Nuonan Ye, Naping Shen, Tianqi Shang, Hongdi Gao, Jieran Guan, Lita Yi. Vegetation Structure and Internal Relationship Between Distribution Patterns of Vegetation and Environment in Ecological Service Forest of Rui’an City in Zhejiang Province [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2017, 52(4): 496-510.
[15] LIU Xiang-Yu, HE Dong, TIAN Wen-Bin, SONG Yan-Jun, YIN Fang, XU Ming-Shan, CHENG Jun-Yang, YAN En-Rong. Patterns of species associations in woody plants in forest communities of Putuoshan Island, Zhejiang, China [J]. Chin J Plan Ecolo, 2017, 41(12): 1219-1227.
Full text



[1] Zhi-Duan Chen, Tuo Yang, Li Lin, Li-Min Lu, Hong-Lei Li, Miao Sun, Bing Liu, Min Chen, Yan-Ting Niu, Jian-Fei Ye, Zhi-Yong Cao, Hong-Mei Liu, Xiao-Ming Wang, Wei Wang, Jing-Bo Zhang, Zhen Meng, Wei Cao, Jian-Hui Li, Sheng-Dan Wu, Hui-Ling Zhao, Zhong-Jian Liu, Zhi-Yuan Du, Qing-Feng Wang, Jing Guo, Xin-Xin Tan, Jun-Xia Su, Lin-Jing Zhang, Lei-Lei Yang, Yi-Ying Liao, Ming-He Li, Guo-Qiang Zhang, Shih-Wen Chung, Jian Zhang, Kun-Li Xiang, Rui-Qi Li, Douglas E. Soltis, Pamela S. Soltis, Shi-Liang Zhou, Jin-Hua Ran, Xiao-Quan Wang, Xiao-Hua Jin, You-Sheng Chen, Tian-Gang Gao, Jian-Hua Li, Shou-Zhou Zhang, An-Ming Lu, China Phylogeny Consortium. Tree of life for the genera of Chinese vascular plants[J]. J Syst Evol, 2016, 54(4): 277 -306 .
[2] Yunpu Zheng;Jiancheng Zhao * ;Bingchang Zhang;Lin Li;Yuanming Zhang . Advances on Ecological Studies of Algae and Mosses in Biological Soil Crust[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2009, 44(03): 371 -378 .
[3] Hong Jian ming, Huang Qing ni, Qiu Ze sheng, Liu Xiang lin, Yin Li ping and Chai Xiao qing. Studies on Nitrate Reductase in Plasma Membrane of Maize Roots[J]. J Integr Plant Biol, 1995, 37(12): .
[4] MOU Jing, BIN Zhen-Jun, LI Qiu-Xia, BU Hai-Yan, ZHANG Ren-Yi, XU Dang-Hui. Effects of nitrogen and silicon addition on soil nitrogen mineralization in alpine meadows of Qinghai-Xizang Plateau[J]. Chin J Plant Ecol, 2019, 43(1): 77 -84 .
[5] ZENG Yi, XIA Nian-He, LIN Ru-Shun. A New Species of Gigantochloa Kurz ex Munro (Poaceae: Bambusoideae) from Yunnan Province, China[J]. Plant Diversity, 2014, 36(05): 581 -583 .
[6] Zili Wu, Mengyao Yu, Lu Chen, Jing Wei, Xiaoqin Wang, Yong Hu, Yan Yan, Ping Wan. Transcriptome Analysis of Physcomitrella patens Response to Cadmium Stress by Bayesian Network[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2015, 50(2): 171 -179 .
[8] Xiayan Liu, Mengdi Zheng, Rui Wang, Ruijuan Wang, Lijun An, Steve R. Rodermel, and Fei Yu. Genetic Interactions Reveal that Specific Defects of Chloroplast Translation are Associated with the Suppression of var2-Mediated Leaf Variegation[J]. J Integr Plant Biol, 2013, 55(10): 979 -993 .
[9] Giovanna Serino, and Qi Xie. The Ever Expanding Role of Ubiquitin and SUMO in Plant Biology[J]. J Integr Plant Biol, 2013, 55(1): 5 -6 .
[10] Wei Hao, Mei-Zhen Zhu, Ji-Ping Gao, Shi-Yong Sun and Hong-Xuan Lin. Identification of Quantitative Trait Loci for Rice Quality in a Population of Chromosome Segment Substitution Lines[J]. J Integr Plant Biol, 2009, 51(5): 500 -512 .