China 2014

North-west Yunnan and south-west Sichuan
c14-1  Our aim was to find Primula bullata and its relatives, but our first find was a lovely Deutzia. c14-2  There was a pink variant as well as the white one. c14-3  Our first Primula was forrestii, here in a giant form. c14-4  Note the difference between the shape, size and farina of summer and winter leaves.
c14-5  Real Primula bracteata is very like P. forrestii. Here it is growing on a sheer limestone cliff. c14-6  Unlike P. forrestii, it has no farina, leaves of a different shape, and short flower stems. c14-7  A chance encounter with a shepherd led us to Primula bullata - unseen in its type location for 125 years. c14-8  Mr Lu and our driver Yang Kun exchange phone numbers.
c14-9  Even our 4WD vehicle struggled to get up the mountain. c14-10  Eventually we reached the site - and took the first ever photographs of Primula bullata. c14-11  Primula bullata, distinguished mainly by the mass of farina on the inflorescences. c14-12  Summer and winter leaves again differ in size, shape and presence of farina.
c14-13  Summer and winter leaves of the current and previous years. c14-14  There is no doubt: bullata, bracteata and variety are the same species - all are varieties of Primula bullata. c14-15  What we have grown as Primula bracteata is P. henrici. c14-16  Amongst the many flowers on this range were Stellera chamaejasme var. chrysantha.
c14-17  Wonderfully scented, this is a magnet for butterflies. c14-18  Incarvillea delavayi was abundant. This was Delavay's main plant-hunting area. c14-19  With this work done, we travelled via Tiger Leaping Gorge to Zhongdian, now called Xiang Ge Li La. c14-20  Iris collettii.
c14-21  Primula wilsonii. c14-22  Nomocharis aperta. c14-23  On Tian Bao Shan Iris bulleyana was abundant - despite being trampled by yaks. c14-24  The usual form is purple.
c14-25  There was one plant with white flowers … c14-26  … and one plant with this lovely white and purple combination. c14-27  Meconopsis racemosum. c14-28  Blue and light purple forms are clearly happy growing in limestone crevices.
c14-29  Later in the trip we found this dark red form. c14-30  Shrubby Aster batangensis was in full flower. c14-31  Megacodon means giant bells. M. stylophorus is nearly 2 metres tall. c14-32  The insides of the bells have a complex pattern of green markings.
c14-33  Heading towards Hong Shan, a reminder of the old, hard life of villagers. c14-34  Perhaps that was what this sign in a hotel room was about! c14-35  The road is both a construction site and a main road: chaos! c14-36  On the edge of the cutting, Cypripedium flavum teeters on the brink.
c14-37  The road over Hong Shan goes for many kilometres at over 4000 m. c14-38  There is a huge variety of plants. Here is Anemone demissa. c14-39  Primula amethystina. c14-40  Primula nanobella.
c14-41  Primula boreiocalliantha. c14-42  Pam and Stella admiring masses of the primula. c14-43  Primula blinii. c14-44  Primula lepta - maybe.
c14-45  Lots of primulas - and lots of Meconopsis. This is M. concinna. c14-46  Meconopsis pseudointegrifolia - front and side views. c14-47  It looks good from the back, too. c14-48  Meconopsis rudis.
c14-49  Another view of Meconopsis rudis. c14-50  The screes held many plants, often hard to see when not in flower. Fritillaria delavayi. c14-51  Inside a flower of Fritillaria delavayi. c14-52  Corydalis benecincta, one of several species in the screes.
c14-53  A good form of Koenigia forrestii. c14-54  A Cremanthodium. c14-55  Down from the screes the abundance of flowers continued. One of the many species of Pedicularis. c14-56  Another Corydalis.
c14-57  Rhododendron saluenensis var. chamaeunum. c14-58  A remarkable range of colours of Rhododendron rupicola. c14-59  At the end of a wonderful day, we found a meadow full of Primula sikkimensis and secundiflora. c14-60  The cheese factory provided welcome accommodation …
c14-61  … although the meat on the menu was not entirely to our taste, C14-62  Restaurant menus often look more like this. c14-63  A journey through Muli produced more primulas. This is P. rupicola, which grows on limestone rocks. C14-64  Primula gracilenta, which we had only seen once before. -
c14-65  This one baffled all of us. We think that it might be Primula diversifolia. C14-66  Much of the area has been devastated by insects, tree felling, fire and overgrazing. C14-67  We returned to Lijiang, now a huge tourist resort … C14-68  … although the views from the windows of new buildings are not always good.
C14-69  A visit to the Field Station allowed us to see them growing many native plants. C14-70  These included this excellent Rheum. C14-71  Primula vialii was growing well, and we saw it wild nearby. C14-72  This form of Thalictrum delavayi is compact but has huge flowers. Magnificent.
C14-73  Heading back south, Primula pulchella had come into flower. C14-74  We also saw Primula malvacea in flower for the first time. C14-75  We then went to search for Primula ambita. Its only known site had been destroyed to make tiny 'fields'. C14-76  Eventually our searching revealed another small colony.
C14-77  These are probably the first photographs ever taken of wild plants of this species. C14-78  It has cream and yellow flowers, produced over a long season. C14-79  The trip ended with a night in an old town … C14-80  … and a walk through an old wood.