This study examined the spatial pattern of chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) variation in Cyclobalanopsis glauca (Thunb. ex Murray) Oerst. (Fagaceae) in 140 trees from Taiwan (25 populations), Japan (three), Ryukyus (two), Hong Kong (one) and Mainland China (one). By sequencing three cpDNA intergenic spacer fragments using universal primers (trnT-trnL, trnV-trnM, including the trnV intron, and petG-trnP), we found a total of 1980 bp and 15 polymorphic sites. Among them, 12 sites were caused by point mutation, and three resulted from insertion. This gives rise to a total of 13 cpDNA haplotypes. The level of differentiation among the populations studied is relatively high (GST = 0.612). Two ancestral haplotypes (A and B) are distributed widely in East Asia. Interestingly, all the derived cpDNA variations are found only in Taiwan but not in other areas. The Central Mountain Ridge (CMR) of Taiwan creates an unsurpassed barrier to the east–west gene flow of C. glauca. Among the populations on the west of CMR, only three separated populations, Yangmingshan, Wushe and Chinshuiying, have high haplotype diversity, each consisting of sister haplotypes all mutated from the same ancestral haplotype. Thus, they have probably originated from de novo mutation after the last glaciation. This inference agrees with the observation that no spatial autocorrelation existed on the west side. Two unrelated dominant lineages on the east of the CMR (haplotypes D and F) showed significant spatial genetic structure. Estimate of NST – GST was –0.090 and differed significantly from zero. Thus at the local scale, the phylogeographical component of the genetic structure is significant on the east of the CMR. Accompanied by published palynological records of the last glaciation, this study suggests the possibility that these two types were colonized northward from the southeastern part of Taiwan. ‘Star-like’ genealogy is characterized, with all the haplotypes coalescing rapidly and as a general outcome of population expansion (Page & Holmes 1998). A neutrality test also suggested a demographic expansion recovered from a bottleneck. We therefore inferred that the southeastern part of Taiwan might be a potential refugium for C. glauca.