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Author Topic: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.  (Read 19473 times)

alanelliott

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Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« on: September 23, 2014, 03:29:33 PM »
Just over two year ago I did the something very similar for the Darchula expedition I was part of and it went down well. So when I asked the SRGC for pennies to join this trip I said I would do the same again. So here it is and I'll add to it as I work through collection and am writing up the main reports.

From the 15th of August 2014 until the 15th of September 2014 I was part of the Flora of Nepal expedition to Baglung, Rukum and Dolpa Districts in Mid-West Nepal. Unlike my last trip http://www.srgc.net/forum/index.php?topic=9543 this was a Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE )led expedition;  led by Dr Colin Pendry from RBGE, myself, two Nepalese members of staff from the Nepalese Department of Plant Resources (DPR) and Dr Patrick Kuss who is from the University of Zurich and is a Sibbald fellow here at RBGE. He is a Pedicularis expert who in the middle of a global revision of the genus currently working on the Flora of Nepal account and collaborating with Chinese scientists on the Pan-Himalayan Flora. The expedition was is part of the Flora of Nepal Project coordinated by the RBGE. All the specimen data, maps and the field images will (eventually) be freely available on www.floraofnepal.org and use the botanical locator link in the top right.

As before my part in the expedition was to continue to receive field training and to collect specimens for DNA analysis as part of my PhD project to investigate the biogeography of the Himalaya. I am currently writing up the reports for the SRGC, AGS and the Davis Expedition fund who all generously supported my participation. The reports will take a little time so I'll be share some images of the landscape and some interesting plants here and on Twitter. But I'll start with some statistics because everyone loves those.

We left Kathmandu at about 6pm on the overnight Burtibang Express a journey of some 360km (220 miles). It took us 26 hours on 4 buses and a jeep to reach Bobang where we started walking. This was due to the road beyond Pokhara becoming increasingly poor and doing it at night is far too dangerous. We slept in our very leaky bus overnight. I was so soaked in the morning I had to change clothes. We started to encounter landslides, which we were aware of and had to unload the bus of all the gear, haul it over the landslide and get on another bus which had been arranged by the transport company. This was easily the most dangerous part of the whole expedition because of the atrocious road conditions. So the less said about that the better.
During our 21 days in the field we covered approximately 200km (125 miles) on foot travelling North from Bobang in Baglung District, to Rukum over the main Himalayan ridge line and into Dolpa district and the Trans-Himalaya. As to be expected working in the Himalaya our route saw us make lots of ups and downs on a daily basis and we clocked up an altitudinal loss and gain of over 27,000m (88,500 ft) over the route.

This was a much smaller expedition than my previous Nepalese trip, consisting of 5 botanists, 3 Sherpa field assistants, 1 Sherpa leader, 1 cook, 3 kitchen staff, 17 porters. In total we collected 452 herbarium specimens with the associated silica dried leaf samples for later DNA extraction. Each herbarium specimen had five duplicates made at the time of collecting; one set each for the partner institutions: RBGE, Tokyo University, National Herbarium of Nepal and Tribhuvan University. The final set is for contributing experts to have a set of whatever taxa they work on in their home herbarium. The exception was CITES listed taxa such as orchids and in those cases only two specimens were collected to stay in Nepal.


Overview of where we were


Route, Camps and Passes.


The full team of scientists, field assistants and porters with Dunai prison as a backdrop (Nice)
« Last Edit: October 08, 2014, 08:15:19 AM by alanelliott »
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alanelliott

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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2014, 09:51:22 AM »
So our daily routine was something like this

Up at 5.30-6am for a cup of tea and a bowl of washing water then pack up our personal gear.
6.30am we’d start checking how dry the previous days specimens were from the overnight drying.

If dry these would be bundled, dated and wrapped in plastic and stored in a metal trunk for protection. If they were still damp these were bundled for another night of drying.
7am (ish) we’d have breakfast as camp is dismantled around us then 7.30-8am we’d set off.We’d then walk and collected for the rest of the day until we reached camp which ranged from 3pm to almost 6pm. Depending on an inability to find a suitable camping site.

As we go we put specimens we collect into a field press. Specimens would be put in sheets of newspaper annotated with the collection number. Images are taken at the same time to capture characters like colour and shapes and sizes that are lost as the specimens are dried and squashed. Lat-Longs and altitude are taken using GPS, and a recorded waypoints which can be uploaded to the database and then the collections made at this locations are attached to this locality which minimises data entry errors.


Our field assistants putting specimens of a Parnassia in the press at 4000m once we'd crossed the Phalgune Dhuri

Once at camp then process our specimen from the day repositioning them in their newspaper before putting them into the drying press. Each specimen would be put between two bits of blotting paper and then between two aluminium corrugates. As the specimens were being sorted a small piece of leaf material from each was put in a “teabag” and these were put in silica gel to dry them out. The specimens then spent the night on the drying frame above kerosene stoves.


Colin pressing the new species of Clematis


Drying Tent.

Data from our field books were entered into a copy of Padme, the Flora of nepal database.  Once we’d finished that or had enough, which is what usually happened with data entry, we’d have dinner. This ranged from 6pm to 9.30pm and must really have annoyed the kitchen guys who wanted to cook for us get sorted and go to bed rather than hang about for us to finish.


Data entry at Phalgune.

We’d have a quick chat about the day and what we might have in store the following day look at the map etcs and then to bed to get some sleep before repeating.


Breakfast below Phalgune Dhuri where the camp including the mess tent had been dismantled around our heads leaving us to enjoy some alfresco breakfast dining.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2014, 01:33:02 PM by alanelliott »
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alanelliott

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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2014, 03:44:14 PM »
Its about time I posted some plants. I'll do this over a period of time as I work through my images and the Flora ones. Most of the names are the field idents we did using Flowers of the Himalaya and Flora of Bhutan that we had with us. It will take time to do proper identifications and I am more than happy with crowd sourced names!

I'll start off low altitude because thats what we did and as the posts progress I'll post some of my favourites from different days/altitudes etc as we move north from the subtropical valleys in Baglung to more temperate and alpine areas of Rukum and then in to the dry inner valleys of Dolpa.

These following images are from Baglung at about 1000-1200m in fairly well populated areas of rice and banana cultivation just north of Burtibang Bazar.




Didymocarpus pedicellatus in the Gesneriaceae


Corallodiscus lanuginosus


Begonia picta but with a washed out leaf because of getting some direct sun.


Sorry not very Alpine-y
« Last Edit: September 26, 2014, 03:48:31 PM by alanelliott »
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Anthony Darby

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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2014, 07:21:32 AM »
What an experience this must be. Thanks for posting.  8)
Anthony Darby, Auckland, New Zealand.
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alanelliott

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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2014, 11:12:38 AM »
From the roadhead at Bobang we spend a few hours walking up to the village of Suprang through fields of maize collecting a few more plants as we went including Corydalis, Dactylicapnos macrocapnos and Pedicularis gracilis.

Patrick explained to us that Pedicularis gracilis in the past has been split into a number of what he considers synonyms based on number of leaves and stem hair number.
He was excited to fine his plant which has a stem of leaves and hairs in 3s and one of 4s coming from the same root system.


Pedicularis gracilis with two stems with differing leaf and stem hair numbers but coming from the same root system.

Near the village of Suprang we had fun collecting Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan Nettle) using an umbrella trying to avoid being stung - the stings are tens times worse than our Urtica. Near the end of the trek I was too busy watching some goats demolishing a field of beans to see one hanging over a drystane dyke and manages to sting an ear and my scalp. They throbbed and burned for about 12 hours and I felt the ear sting for a couple of days after, which made sleeping particularly uncomfortable as I rolled about.


Colin collecting Girardinia diversifolia. With a funeral happening in the background.

We saw and collected a number of different Codonopsis species but a highlight was Codonopsis purpurea growing as an epiphyte on Rhododendron arboretum and a couple of other trees species. We couldn’t get to it so Tenzing paid a boy to climb the tree and collect it for us. This was the only time we saw this species where as Codonopsis grey-wilsonii was far more common and seen many times in Baglung and Rukum.


Collecting Codonopsis purpurea


Codonopsis purpurea

« Last Edit: October 06, 2014, 04:23:33 PM by alanelliott »
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Maggi Young

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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2014, 12:10:02 PM »
That photo of Codonopsis purpurea is a stunner   check out the sheen and substance of that flower.
 We're all learning from this trip - talk about a win-win situation.  Thanks, Al !
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ArnoldT

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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2014, 01:13:58 PM »
Alan:

 Thanks for bringing the other side of the world to my desk top.  Any ideas what the irritant is in the nettle, Girardinia diversifolia?

Arnold Trachtenberg
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alanelliott

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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2014, 01:41:38 PM »
Alan:

 Thanks for bringing the other side of the world to my desk top.  Any ideas what the irritant is in the nettle, Girardinia diversifolia?

Pleasure!

Honestly I dont know for Girardinia. I do know in Urtica species that Oxalic and Tartaric acids as well as histamine have been isloated from sting fluid. As they are in the same family possibly something similar would be found in the Girardinia stings.
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ArnoldT

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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2014, 03:14:09 PM »
Just love the internet.

http://www.botanical-dermatology-database.info/BotDermFolder/URTI.html

Girardinia diversifolia I. Friis ssp diversifolia
    (syns Girardinia chingiana S.S. Chien, Girardinia condensata Wedd., Girardinia heterophylla Decne., Girardinia leschenaultiana Decne., Girardinia palmata Gaudich., Girardinia zeylanica Decne., Urtica diversifolia Link, Urtica heterophylla Vahl, Urtica horrida Link)
Himalayan Nettle, Nilgiri Nettle

Girardinia zeylanica yields a fibre that has been used for making clothes, with unpleasant results, owing to the extreme difficulty experienced in entirely removing the stinging principles, even in the severe processes to which the plant is subjected in order to extract the fibre (Philip Smith 1920a).

Extracts prepared from the whole leaves of Girardinia heterophylla homogenised in acetone have been shown to contain histamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, and acetylcholine (Saxena et al. 1964, Saxena et al. 1966), it being suggested that these substances are responsible in whole or in part for the pain, triple response and dermatitis caused by the stings of this nettle (see also Dendrocnide moroides Chew above).

[Further information available but not yet included in database]
Arnold Trachtenberg
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alanelliott

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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2014, 05:17:00 PM »
North of Suprang and where we collected Codonopsis purpurea we walked through Abies, Betula and Rhododendron forest before emerging at Deurali Pass overlooking Syalpakhe floodplain and the Uttar Ganga Nadi. That evening we camped down by the river.


Looking North to Syalpakhe


Incidentally the other day a called the more abundant Codonopsis we saw in the forest Codonposis convolvulaceae. Turns out I was telling fibs and now I've spent time identifying the Campanulaceae specimens today it is actually Codonopsis grey-wilsonii.

Patrick was also in his element collecting a couple of Pedicularis which he was pleased with.


Collecting Pedicularis klotzschii subsp lutescens in a boggy bit of ground and the attracting attention of locals


A closer look at Pedicularis klotzschii subsp lutescens inflorescence


Pedicularis hoffmeisterii another commonish species we saw and one I'll come back to another day



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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2014, 06:41:00 PM »
Hello Alan just back from the SRGC discussion weekend where we saw so many wonderful pictures - now home to find your stunning pictures with report,  thanks, cheers Ian the Christie kind
« Last Edit: October 06, 2014, 06:47:10 PM by Maggi Young »
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alanelliott

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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2014, 08:14:03 AM »
Hello Alan just back from the SRGC discussion weekend where we saw so many wonderful pictures - now home to find your stunning pictures with report,  thanks, cheers Ian the Christie kind

Cheers Ian. We should have a catch up re-Botanists Garden at some point when I'm back up the road.
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alanelliott

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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2014, 01:52:16 PM »
From the Uttar Ganga Nadi we continued north now following the Phalguni Khola. Initally we were walking through cultivated land and pasture in the broad valley but soon we were in the forest again. Our Nepali colleagues had set off early to the Dorpatan office to hand in our paperwork to the Park’s officials which was about an hour away and in the opposite direction to where we were going.

 
We collected Crementhodium ellisii, Koenigia , Nepeta and Delphinium and Primula munroi in an areas of degraded pasture within the forest.


Primula munroi
 
We had managed to miss the trail and ended up going on an off piste adventure scrambling up and through dense Betula and Rhododendron forest before hitting a different good trail further up the slope.


Morina longifolia

By lunchtime Colin who had been feeling unwell since the morning was knackered and had no appetite. I offered to take his collecting kit off him and we carried on. We hadn't gone much further before Colin stopped for a rest and was in a worse state than just half an hour before. With that our Sherpa's took his rucksack from him he was ordered just to walk to camp and not collect. We were also assured that camp was just round the corner.

Partick meanwhile was busy collecting Pedicularis siphonanatha, P. scullyana and P. megalantha.

I stopped to collect a big Swertia growing with its feet in a flowing burn, leaving Colin to plod on with his field assistant. I was with Tenzing who stopped to ask a group of women at a farm where our campsite was likely to be. They pointed way off into the distance and Tenzing look a bit shocked and got out his map. They oldest woman pointed to just below the pass and said thats were the next sensible place to camp is. It turned out that was another 4km and 500m of altitude gain away. After that I had lost any enthusiasm for collecting as I was feeling pretty tired too and just walked on and catch up with Colin. Tenzing decided to say behind and wait for Patrick and hopefully Ganga and Subash who were supposed to catch us up to hurry them along because it was already mid-afternoon.

Walking up through the forest I saw large plants of Clematis buchananiana in fruit and flower growing up and over the Rhododendrons but as I said I had no enthusiasm for collecting.

I eventually caught up with Colin at a large landslide where the river in spate had clearly done some damage. Again despite the large population of Meconopsis paniculata in flower and fruit these were left well alone in favour of getting to camp. We had also caught up with the porters who were complaining about the length of the day and altitude gain. They were carrying 40kg so it was justified!


Meconopsis paniculata
« Last Edit: October 11, 2014, 01:54:16 PM by alanelliott »
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alanelliott

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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2014, 04:25:47 PM »
I get up to camp and dumped my gear and went back down to buddy Colin the rest of the way. When we got back up to camp I got him a seat and asked the kitchen guys for some hot juice for him while a couple of us got his tent up. Once Colin was on his back, and with it only an hour and a bit until it got dark I headed back down to find out how far away Patrick, Ganga and Subash were.


Colin making the best of it once in camp.

I met Patrick and his Sherpa assistant not too far down but then carried on a bit further to meet Tenzing who assured me Ganga and Subash were just 10min behind him. Knowing they would make camp before it got dark and headed back to catch up with Patrick to take one of his bags off and lighten his load.

Once back in camp Patrick and I started on the day’s specimens. Less than half way through processing these it had gotten dark and I realised our Nepalese counterparts had not yet appeared. I grabbed my head torch and went out to find out what was happening. It turned out they were 50m below the camp exhausted. The kitchen crew had taken them down tea and biscuits to give them some energy so they could make it up the rest of the way.

When they got to camp they got stuck in with the processing with Patrick and I went off to set up the drying tent with Tenzing and a couple of the field assistants by torchlight. None of us had built the extendable drying frame yet and it took us a while to work out how it was done. By 9.30pm we had finished processing the specimens and got the drying process going; I was exhausted and could barely speak let along think but at least dinner was ready and waiting. 

As this was alot of text here is one of my favourites from this camp even if it was a haven for leeches


Jurinea macrocephala


Jurinea macrocephala close-up
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ichristie

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Re: Flora of Nepal expedition 2014- Baglung, Rukum, Dolpa.
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2014, 04:57:14 PM »
Super picture Alan and all the details hope Colin recoverd well we know how difficult the local bugs are, cheers Ian the Christie kind
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