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Author Topic: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012  (Read 42860 times)

alanelliott

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2012, 03:54:11 PM »
Greetings from a wet and windy Penicuik.I've spent this weird holiday Monday at home cleaning the data from the Darchula trip and here are some trip statistics based in the field identifications.

We made 1178 collections of flowering plants and ferns which cover 115 families and 338 genera. There are still 97 collections unknown to family and 276 collections unknown to genera.

Below are the ten largest families and genera in terms of collections.

Family# CollectionsGenus# Collections
Poaceae80Rhododendron30
Asteraceae74Carex27
Rosaceae69Potentilla19
Cyperaceae49Salix18
Polygonaceae41Rhodiola16
Ranunculaceae40Galium16
Ericaceae37Pedicularis15
Orchidaceae36Corydalis14
Fabaceae34Alnus13
Saxifragaceae26Impatiens12

and by way of penance here are a couple of nice pictures!


Androsace lanuginosa at about 2300m near Ghusa


Aster sp. growing near the camp at Joge Tal at 3800m.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2012, 04:36:51 PM by alanelliott »
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Botanica

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2012, 06:28:44 PM »
Thanks for your post   ;)

36 Orchidaceae's you have seen ?

Have you somes photos for you to described the Biodiversity ?  :P ;D

alanelliott

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2012, 08:39:13 PM »

36 Orchidaceae's you have seen ?


In a word no. mostly because I wasnt looking. We each had our own plants to collect. Ganga Dutt, a nepalese botanist, was collecting and photographing Orchidaceae. Sorry
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alanelliott

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2012, 09:30:15 PM »
They say an army marches on its stomach and that goes for botanists too! We basically ate our way up to Api. As well as the insane amount of food that the porters carried for 100 people for 21 days we bought or collected food too. Nectarines and bananas were bought from farmers as we went. A couple of times we bought new tatties and ate them covered in garlic and butter while we processed specimens. The cook staff collected "greens" from the forest, there were plenty of Cucurbitaceae to be had and we even had young fern crosiers one night. We picked Berberis and other fruits when we came across them. One of my favourite was fried Polygonatum rhizome. We had that one evening after we found a clearing in the forest where there must have been thousands. Also our sherpas and the cook staff continually harvested fungi from the trees which was always delicious. We joked a couple of times about the embarrassment and professional humiliation if a group of professional botanists myco-poisoned themselves while in the field.





One of the most interesting and locally important crops at less than 1500m was the Chiuri tree, Aesandra butyracea in the Sapotaceae. The expedition coincided with fruiting and we all had the opportunity to gorge ourselves on the excellent fruits and learn about its importance to the local economy. At Chureni village we were told that each family has 2 trees, from which they obtain about 200 kg of fruit which contain 100 kg of seed which yield about 80 l of edible oil, making them completely self-sufficient in oil. We were interested in the potential for commercialisation of this crop, and later at DPR we learned that there is a small scale processing plant at Gokuleshwar, but that it has met with limited success because of the presence of saponins in the fruit. So far no one has needed a kidney transplant so thats all good.



On to a couple of random plants for this evening.

Firstly, Epilobium latifolium this was growing in the debris on top of the Bobaye glacier. It was amazing to see something so big and blousy flowering there. I like the irony of a "Fireweed" growing on top of ice.



Secondly, Meconopsis robusta. This species is found from NW India to West Nepal. It is the furthest west of the evergreen rossette monocarpic species and is assumed that it is closely related to the likes of M. dhwojii and M. napaulensis. We've sent dried leaf for DNA extraction to the USA to be tested as part of a PhD project being done in Texas.

We found a single plant in bud on the way up to Api and decided to leave it until we returned hoping that it would have opened. Five days later it had. We only found and collected six plants. Interestingly, plants that were in direct sun had purple/black bases to the bristles on the leaves and stem whereas the plants in the shade did not. I mention this because the purple/black base to the bristles has been used as a distinguishing character between various taxa in the genus and in this case as least seems to be a plastic character dependant of the environment. The Meconopsis account in Volume 3 of the Flora of Nepal used this character in the Key to distinguish M. gracilipes from M. dhwojii.




« Last Edit: September 27, 2012, 04:18:23 PM by alanelliott »
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ichristie

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2012, 12:43:20 PM »
Hello Alan, I am green with envy that I was not with you but your superb report and pictures seems as if I was thanks for posting all the pictures and info,  cheers Ian the Christie kind
Ian ...the Christie kind...
from Kirriemuir

alanelliott

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2012, 02:21:38 PM »
Hello Alan, I am green with envy that I was not with you but your superb report and pictures seems as if I was thanks for posting all the pictures and info,  cheers Ian the Christie kind

Cheers Ian. I'll have another couple of post yet i think.
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alanelliott

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2012, 04:20:56 PM »
Today is just a wee summary of the vegetation and altitude from the observations in my field book. I’ve tried to illustrate with some images what the vegetation was like or refer back to previous posts.

I plotted our route to various point along our route from the start of the trek to the highest point I reached. The graph showing the altitude, with the Camps marked along the x-axis. Roughly where the vegetation changed is marked below the altitude line.



On the valley floor at the start of the trek the vegetation felt very subtropical despite being so far north. This is attributed to the effect of the valley being so deep. The vegetation was fairly degraded due to agriculture and constant harvesting of anything that’s left for fodder.  Both of these points are  fair enough and they are far gentler at it than we are than we are with agriculture.



You can see higher up the slopes on the above picture that there is open forest. This is Pinus roxburghii the dominant tree between 1300-2000m. The stands of Pinus roxburghii tended to be very open mostly grasses  and some herbs as understory.





The first of the two image I like because you can see the white dots of our porters with their “Japanese boxes”, weighing about 30kg if they were lucky, heading up the hill ahead of us. We found Meizotropis buteiformis growing on the way up.

From about 1500m Quercus spp. appeared and become dominant between 2000-2500m. Above 2500m the dominant tree was another oak, Quercus semicarpifolia. This persisted until about 3500m where we left and artificial tree line, although it was still above us on the slopes.

Between Lithi and Kayhekot there was much more open with grasslands, probably moidifed by human action due to it being fairly populated, despite being so steep.


Looking to Kayhekot

The riverine forests, beyond Kayhekot, at altitudes greater that 2000m were a mix of a number of deciduous species: Aesculus sp. Junglans sp. Acer sp., Alnus nepalensis, Betula utilis and Rhododendron campanulatum, R. barbatum and R. arboreum.


Acer thomsonii (I think)

On a steep hillside from about 2900-3100m, between Khayekot and Simar Kharka the dominant tree was Abies spectabilis, which had a mix of Betula utilis, Rhododendron campanulatum, Rhododendron arboreum and Tsuga dumosa.



Above this altitude the valley flattened out to something resembling a glaciated valley. From here to 3500m there was some beautiful Quercus semicarpifolia forest. As we were now relatively far beyond the last permanent village, the forest felt very unspoiled until Dhaulo Odar where the temporary Cordyceps camp appears for a few months a year and it was fairly trashed.



To the west of camp at Joge Tal on steep north facing slopes at about 4000m there were remnants of Betula utilis - Rhododendron forest. As a contrast the Mordor-esque the lack of vegetation on the Bobaye glacier at about the same altitude up to 4100m, the highest point on the glacier we reached, was only a few km away to the NE from the Betula forest.



The sub-alpine and alpine pasture above 3500m was an impressive dense carpet of flowering herbs. The dwarf shrub flora associated with this altitude at the eastern end of the Himalaya was all but absent - Rhododendron lepidotum & R. anthopogon were to two most common shrub species we found.  The slopes to the SE of Bobaye glacier with sparse alpine vegetation but classic flora like Sausaurea obvollata and the Primula’s I’ve posted previously to 4400m – but the vegetation extended higher we just didn’t get there.





« Last Edit: September 30, 2012, 05:04:40 PM by alanelliott »
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alanelliott

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #22 on: October 03, 2012, 04:45:08 PM »
Today’s entry is just some random picture from the expedition. I’ve been databasing the Clematis specimens we imaged from the National Herbarium (KATH) at Godavari, about 40 minute drive outside of Kathmandu.  It’s a weird building if you’ve ever watched Lost and can picture the Dharma Initiative buildings that are slowly crumbling in the jungle…you have it.





We spent half a day there dropping off the duplicate set of specimens for DPR and I took the opportunity to image herbarium specimens that will be very useful for my PhD project and writing the account for the Flora of Nepal.


This specimen is Clematis phlebantha.

The trip to the herbarium was a useful exercise because there are lots of specimens that I’ve not seen duplicated in UK herbaria. These specimens tend to be from the Mid-hills and the Terai. Western botanists, like we did, try to get as high as possible. The likes of Stainton, Polunin etc. and more recently Japanese and Edinburgh expeditions have neglected the Mid-hills. Plus no one really wants to spend any time in the heat and oppressive humidity of the Terai. Luckily there are an abundance of specimens collected by Nepalese botanists in KATH that seem to fill in the gaps. Working as a production line, Colin and I managed to image 630 specimens but we ran out of time at about 80% done.

Noshiro-san took pictures of people working so here’s one of me taking a picture of  Meizotropis buteiformis and the picture I took as we left the camp below Lithi.





I started noticing something quite strange when we went got going. When we walked through villages or passed people on the trail I’d always place my hands together and say Namaste or Namaskar depending on the age of the person. Normally I’d get a Namaste back but old men would almost invariably salute me. It took me a couple of days to realise that it was probably my choice in walking trousers – the only people I’d seen wearing combats were the paramilitary police that had a couple of checkpoints up the valley.
When we were almost Khayekot an old guy walked up to us and snapped to attention, saluted and he stayed in position despite my protests that he shouldn’t salute. I had to I saluted him back! Madness.

His English was pretty good. “Where are you going? Are you working Sir?”

“Yes we are on our way to Api. We are surveying the plants in the valley for the Flora of Nepal project.”

He looked mightily confused.

Finally is a group picture of the botanists and the Sherpa team - the Api Family. All the botanical jokes and puns have been done to death.


« Last Edit: October 03, 2012, 04:56:11 PM by alanelliott »
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frits.kp

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2013, 07:49:12 PM »
Alan as I have commented on Twitter will post a reply here just to emphasize the strength of this blog, amazing pictures and brilliant, brilliant read. Will look forward to any further additions. Hope the SRGC print more in full SOON.
Kevin Pratt
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 07:59:53 PM by frits.kp »
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alanelliott

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2013, 09:26:45 AM »
Alan as I have commented on Twitter will post a reply here just to emphasize the strength of this blog, amazing pictures and brilliant, brilliant read. Will look forward to any further additions. Hope the SRGC print more in full SOON.
Kevin Pratt

You are very kind Kevin and as it sounds like a guilt trip I'll happily add some more soon.

Al
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ian mcenery

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #25 on: January 18, 2013, 02:09:21 PM »
Thank you Alan this is a great thread also very informative. Thanks again for taking the time
Ian McEnery Sutton Coldfield  West Midlands 600ft above sea level

Liz Mills

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #26 on: January 19, 2013, 08:04:35 PM »
A brilliant thread, Al.  You're a very lucky person to go on such a fascinating trip - thanks for sharing it.  Liz

Olga Bondareva

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #27 on: January 20, 2013, 06:34:33 PM »
Alan
Thank you very much for the topic. Lots of beautiful images and information! The trip was really great.
Olga Bondareva, Moscow, Zone 3

alanelliott

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2013, 01:49:17 PM »
Thank you Alan this is a great thread also very informative. Thanks again for taking the time
Thanks for commenting. It was the least I could do because of all the support the club has given me!
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alanelliott

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Re: Darchula District Far West Nepal 2012
« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2013, 01:50:24 PM »
A brilliant thread, Al.  You're a very lucky person to go on such a fascinating trip - thanks for sharing it.  Liz
Thanks Liz glad you enjoyed it! Sharing was my pleasure after all the club helped get me there!
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