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IN THE LAND OF THE BLUE, YELLOW, AND RED POPPIES Plant Hunting in Sichuan and Qinghai, China John and Hilary Birks.

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Presentation on theme: "IN THE LAND OF THE BLUE, YELLOW, AND RED POPPIES Plant Hunting in Sichuan and Qinghai, China John and Hilary Birks."— Presentation transcript:


2 IN THE LAND OF THE BLUE, YELLOW, AND RED POPPIES Plant Hunting in Sichuan and Qinghai, China John and Hilary Birks

3 Where is the Land of the Blue, Yellow, and Red Poppies? How did we come to be there and who were we with? How did we travel around? What was known about the area previously? How did we identify plants from there? Sichuan and Qinghai Vegetation and floristic zones Mixed deciduous-coniferous forest 1900-2600 m Coniferous forest 2600-3000 m (-3500 m) Sichuan-Qinghai Plateau 3500-3800 m Sub-alpine vegetation 3200-3900 m Alpine vegetation 3900-4200+ m Pedicularis – a Sichuan and Qinghai wonder Last memories

4 Where is the Land of Blue, Yellow, and Red Poppies?



7 How did we come to be there and who were we with? AGS Expeditions tour – July 2001 Christopher Grey-Wilson and 19 others, mainly horticultural friends – Ken Beckett, Chris Sanders, Chris Bailes, Rosie Steele, Sally Pettit, Rebecca Dunbar, Lord and Lady Skelmersdale, David Hazelgrove, Mike Grant, et al. 1 Chinese guide (Aster) and 4 Chinese drivers and assistants from Yunnan.

8 How did we travel round?

9 Near Somang Qu 2200 m Near Longriba 3200 m 1 bus, 1 mini-bus, 1 lorry

10 What was known about the area previously? Ernest 'Chinese' Wilson (1876-1930) 'A Naturalist in Western China' Reginald Farrer (1880-1920) 'The Rainbow Bridge' Roy Lancaster – 'A Kind of Fairyland' Peter Hutchinson and Peter Cox – 'The Red Grasslands and the Scarlet Meconopsis' Phillip Cribb – 'Sichuan, home of Lilium regale'

11 Wolong and Balang Shan – last stronghold of Panda and mountains around have been a great attraction to explorers Robert Fortune (1812-1880) Arthur Bulley (1861-1942) George Forrest (1873-1932) Frank Kingdon- Ward (1885-1958) 'Land of the Blue Poppy' (1913)

12 George Sherriff (1897-1967) Frank Ludlow (1886-1972) Phillip Cribb – 'Wolong, Hardy Plants in the Panda's Last Stronghold'

13 How did we identify plants there? China flora 31,141 species 12% world's flora 3407 genera, 300 families, 15,000 species endemic (N. America 17,000 species; 3,000 species endemic) 1958-2004Flora Republicae Popularis Sinicae (FRPS) 80 volumes, 126 parts 312 Chinese botanists



16 1980sTranslation into 25 volumes by 2010 To date: 9 volumes + 8 volumes of illustrations








24 RBGEMark Watson, Robert Mill and Wang Hong, Eona Aitken, Douglas McKean, Lawrie Springate, et al. PrimulaJohn Richards CorydalisMagnus Lidén Monographs on Iris, Orchids, Meconopsis, Geranium, Lilium, Koenigia, Codonopsis, and Rhododendron Flora of Bhutan – some help Identified 380 species, ignored grasses and sedges Major problems with ferns, Anemone, Rosaceae shrubs, and Astragalus. Many plants overlooked. Much time spent travelling.

25 1:1,500,000 Our RouteJuly 8 – July 23 2001


27 Sichuan and Qinghai Some of the largest Chinese provinces. Mountains up to 7000 m in Min-Shan range. Low-lying basin around Chengdu and Yangtze River at 500 m rises up to the 'Tibetan' Plateau at 3500 m to the north and west, with 7000 m mountains around the southern and eastern edges of the Plateau. Mountains and Plateau to north and west of Chengdu sparsely populated by Tibetan and Qiang people. Also some Han Chinese and Hui, Muslim descendants of Genghis Khan. Heavily cultivated in lowlands, some sub-tropical trees and shrubs survive grading with altitude into temperate forest, coniferous forest, Tibetan Plateau, and alpine areas.

28 Climate Very few climate stations in the area Elevation Mean annual temperaturePrecipitation Chengdu508 m16.2ºC947 mm Songpan2828 m5.7ºC790 mm Barkam2664 m8.7ºC761 mm Sichuan-Qinghai Plateau – temperate climate with maximum precipitation in June-August Little spatial variation in precipitation. Major gradient is of decreasing temperature with altitude

29 Altitudinal transect of vegetation and flora 1900-2600 m Mixed deciduous – coniferous forest 2600-3000 m (-3500 m)Coniferous forest 3500-3800 m Sichuan – Qinghai 'Tibetan' Plateau 3200-3900 mSub-alpine zone 3900-4200+ mAlpine vegetation

30 Mixed coniferous-deciduous forest zone 1900-2600 m Valley of Heroes, Wolong, 2200 m Wolong cabbage patches, 2200 m Tilia chinensis Acer pectinata Salix magnifica 'Yunnan Magnolia' Sorbaria aitchinsonii Rosa moresei Rosa soulei Spiraea micrantha Actinidia kolomicta Clematis intricata Clematis potaninii var. souliei Clematis tangutica Lonicera purpurescens Lonicera cf. tomentella Hydrangea heteromalla Paeonia veitchii (pale form) Paeonia veitchii (deep form) Anemone tomentosa Spiranthes sinensis Jiuzhaigou lake, 2100 m Jiuzhaigou tufa waterfalls, 2000 m Paris polyphylla Arisaema dilatatum Arisaema concinnum Fragaria nubicola

31 Mixed coniferous-deciduous forest zone 1900-2600 m Gentiana syringea Wolong Pitiao River side valley, 2400 m Cardamine macrophylla Semiaquilegia ecalcarata Hypericum forrestii Corydalis flexuosa Corydalis sp. nov. Saxifraga rufescens Gentiana rubicunda Lilium duchartrei Wolong Panda Reserve Pandas

32 Coniferous (Abies-Picea) forest zone 2600-3000 m (-3500 m) Pitiao River and Balang Shan, 2800 m Phaius delavayi Cypripedium tibeticum (photographed in Bhutan) Codonopsis convolvulacea Lilium pumilum Notholirion bulbiferum Min Jiang valley, 2300 m Lilium regale (photographed in Bergen) Min Jiang valley, 2200 m Incarvillea sinensis Cheilanthes argentea Hong Yuan cultivation, 2500 m Village near Longriba, 2600 m Veronica ciliata Mimulus tenellus var. platyphyllus Dicranostigma leptodum Ligularia liatroides Bridge to Taopingyin village, 3100 m Taopingyin village, 3100 m Taopingyin village washing, 3100 m Taopingyin village market, 3100 m Roadside fruit stalls, 3100 m

33 Coniferous (Abies-Picea) forest zone 2600-3000 m (-3500 m) Songpan City Wall, 2800 m Songpan Gate, 2800 m Songpan fruit and vegetable dealer Songpan vegetable shop Songpan meat shop Tebiit Mountion Man Restaurant, Yellow Dragon Monastery, Huanglongsi, 3500 m Saxifraga cernua Huanglongsi tufa pools and Min-Shan range, 3500 m

34 Sichuan-Qinghai Plateau 3500-3800 m Longriba plateau, 3650 m Plateau locals, 3600 m Plateau locals, 3700 m Camp 3, 3300 m Locals visiting Camp 3 Camp 4, 3600 m Plateau meadows, 3500 m Stellera chamaejasme (white- yellow form) Stellera chamaejasme (white-red form) Stellera and yaks Young yak, 3600 m Yak camp, 3600 m Yak camp, 3510 m Yak camp and disturbance, 3510 m Yak turf-fuel, 3500 m Plateau grassland, 3750 m Potentilla stenophylla Hedysarum sikkimensis Astragalus yunnanensis Astragalus tanguticus Taraxacum sikkimense Iris farreri Dianthus longicalyx Trollius damp meadows, 3800 m Trollius pumilus River alluvium, 3600 m Ligularia purdomii Damp meadows, 3500 m

35 Sichuan-Qinghai Plateau 3500-3800 m Cremanthodium bruneopilosum Ajuga ovalifolia Phlomis (= Lamiophlomis) rotata Incarvillea compacta var. quinghaiensis Meconopsis racemosa (= M. horridula ssp. racemosa) Primula secundiflora Gentiana loureirii Koenigia islandica Corydalis rheinbabeniana Tibetan shop, 3800 m Shuajingsi village, 3800 m Juden Buddhist chortens, 3410 m Kirti Gompa monastery, 3500 m Kirti Gompa monastery Kirti Gompa door and gate Prayer wheels, Kirti Gompa 'Shawm' player, Kirti Gompa Aba monastery (Ser Gompa), 3500 m

36 Sub-alpine vegetation 3200-3900 m Balang Shan, Wolong, 3200 m Veratrum macrophyllum Veratrum nigrum Iris chrysographes Pleurospermum benthamii Corydalis Sect. Elatae Leontopodium calocephalum Dolomiaea souliei var. mirabilis Parnassia delavayi Geranium moupinense Ligularia cymbulifera Zhegu Shan, 3900 m Rhododendron heath, 3900 m Rhododendron rupicola Rhododendron nivale Rhododendron przewalskii Fritillaria unibracteata Fritillaria bulb collectors Gentiana pudica Primula nutans Potentilla – Spiraea heath, 3800 m Potentilla parviflora Potentilla dahurica Potentilla dahurica x P. parviflora Meconopsis integrifolia Meconopsis punicea

37 Alpine vegetation 3900-4200+ m Min-Shan range, 3900 m Stone Mountain, Qinghai, 4000 m Meconopsis quintuplinervia Gentiana leucomelaena Androsace brachystegia Soroseris hookeriana Ranunculus dongrergensis Leontopodium stracheyi Cremanthodium discoideum Primula gemmifera var. gemmifera Primula amethystina Meconopsis henricii Meconopsis lancifolia Meconopsis sinomaculata Corydalis curviflora Trollius farreri Gentiana hexaphylla Huanglong Si limestone screes, 3900 m Arenaria kansuensis Arenaria roseiflora Microulia bhutanica Amitostigma monanthum Androsace bisulca Androsace selago Draba glomerata Saxifraga saxatilis Corydalis melanochlora Corydalis trachycarpa

38 Alpine vegetation 3900-4200+ m Saussurea medusa Huanglong Si alpine tundra, 4000 m Codonopsis nervosa Koenigia pilosa Meconopsis rudis (= M. horridula spp. racemosa) Meconopsis rudis (= M. horridula ssp. racemosa) Primula sikkimensis Primula violacea Paraquilegia anemonoides cliff, 4200 m Paraquilegia anemonoides Potentilla pendula Saxifraga unguiculata

39 Pedicularis – a Sichuan and Qinghai wonder! Pedicularis artselaeri Pedicularis dunniana Pedicularis densispica ssp. densispica Pedicularis densispica ssp. schneideri Pedicularis rhinanthoides Pedicularis torta Pedicularis davidii ssp. davidii Pedicularis davidii ssp. pentodon Pedicularis longiflora var. tubiformis Pedicularis tricolor Pedicularis przewalskii Pedicularis humilis Pedicularis decorissima (photo: Mike Grant)

40 1. The Alpine Gardener – September 2002 – 70(3) Last Memories Also

41 2. Unexplored mountains Balang Shan Min Shan

42 3. Meconopsis poppies M. racemosa Blue

43 YellowRed M. integrifoliaM. punicea

44 4. Sichuan accommodation Hongyuan Hotel Public WC

45 5. Sichuan food Hongyuan Wolong Hongyuan

46 6. Sichuan children Deng Zhanzwa Hongyuan

47 7. Sichuan people Photos: C. Grey-Wilson

48 8. Sichuan culture Somang Qu Chanzhusi Chortens

49 Songpan

50 Sir Gompa, Aba

51 9. Wolong pandas

52 10. Chinese (Yunnan) field crew

53 11. Tibetan monks Young trainee monksMonks

54 John the Novice Goodbye!

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