To understand plants consumed by Asian elephants in China, we collated data from wild and captive Asian elephants (from the Xishuangbanna Center for Rescue and breeding of Asian Elephant). Methods: Wild elephants were surveyed using transects, for tracking, observing and searching traces of foraging and plant residues, captive elephants while self-feeding in the wild. Results: The result of our field surveys shows that the plants foraged by the Chinese Asian elephants included 111 species (77 genera of 42 families from 29 orders), among which 57 species were recorded for the first time as forage plant of the Asian elephant. Based on our field surveys and previous research, a new checklist of forage plants with 240 species (162 genera, 62 families, 32 orders) was proposed for the Asian elephants in China. The G-F index (0.84) reveals that the Chinese Asian envelopes have a diverse diet, including pteridophytes, gymnosperm, and angiosperms. Our analyses show the plants foraged by the captive Asian elephants in Xishuangbanna include 84 species. However, the captive Asian elephants in Xishuangbanna feed mainly on Gramineae (Saccharum spp., Zea mays, Digitaria spp., Pennisetum purpureum, and Thysanolaena
latifolia); while the captive Asian elephants elsewhere in China (Beijing Zoo, Guangzhou Zoo and Kunming Zoo) are primarily fed with Sorghum species (S. bicolor, or S. sudanense). Thus wild elephant populations should have a more diverse diet. Discussion: Thus the restoration of wild Asian Elephant habitat protection should avoid crops and cash crops, and prioritise delicious, fast-growing, and high biomass indigenous plants, such as Musa acuminata, Thysanolaena latifolia, Caryota obtuse, Broussonetia papyrifera, Bischofia polycarpa, Macaranga denticulata, Digitaria spp., bamboo, and so on. To provide adequate food for wild Asian elephants, a variety of plants need to be grown according to different seasons of planting. For captive Asian elephants a diverse range of plants to feed on in addition to better conditions would greatly improve their quality of life.