The Genus Primula L. in India : A Taxonomic Revision by Sandip Kumar Basak, Gaurgopal Maiti and Prabhat Kumar Hajra, BSMPS, 2014, ix, 670 p, 136 b/w figs, b/w plates, ISBN : 9788121104913
Contents: Foreword. Preface. 1. Introduction. 2. Historical background. 3. Materials and methods. 4. Gross morphology. 5. Pollen micro-morphology. 6. Seed morphology. 7. Systematic treatment. 8. Classification. 9. Discussion. References. Index.
The Genus Primula L. in India : A Taxonomic Revision deals with complete account of Indian species of Primula. This genus is one of the most beautiful herbaceous temperate alpine plants with high level of diversity. In this book total number of 106 species and 13 infra specific taxa of Primula distributed in Indian region have been documented through original taxonomic revisionary study. It provides the account of present species of Primula of Indian region with their correct nomenclatural status under the light of modern classification. Some new taxa and new combinations have also been made in this work. The distributional aspects, nomenclatural and ecological notes along with the cultivation practices are revisited here to evaluate the information on spread and confinement endemic nature and habitat with the possibilities of cultivation of some species
Fwd: The Genus Primula in India (A Taxonomic Revision) – first (unfavorable) impressions : 1 post by 1 author.
I have just obtained access to a copy of this over-priced volume and disappointing volume. No, disappointing, is not the correct word, as I must admit to expecting to find lots of shortcomings and errors – I fear it is going to be riddled with those (it will take time to check all of them). I am not saying the work does not have any useful content but members with an interest in the genus need to be told of the incorrect information and use it with considerable cautious not an authoritative reference work.
It takes not just years but decades of experience to gain a good level of understanding of a genus as large and complicated as Primula. No young Ph.D. student (in any country) could possibly do justice to the genus.
It is not about underlying intellect just it takes time to build up certain skills and a capacity to make certain assessments.
My own grasp of such matters, now in my 50s, is vastly superior to where I was in my 20s.
The review of this book on ‘Primula World’ website, which listed Primula heydei but not P.cachemiriana or P.pamirica let alone P.brotherusii. There may be other omissions.
The authors, largely, seem to have copied past work on the genus. They appear to have not touched the Primula macrophylla complex (which has troubled botanists and specialist gardeners for more than a century). The authors were not aware of the studies of Professor Arve Elvebakk in Norway who has recognised Primula meeboldii (though not published the species yet) from high passes in Ladakh and at least one other taxa, probably species from Kashmir. The authors seem blissfully unaware of such variation.
It is NOT a taxonomic revision at all – merely an account of Primula specimens in Indian herbaria. This is a common shortcoming of so-called revisions of genera by Indian botanists who seldom collaborate internationally (indeed have been discouraged from doing so). Such isolations contributes to often poor revisions. Indian botanists, like botanists the world over, NEED to and BENEFIT from such collaboration.
The authors state their work “is based mostly on the herbarium materials deposited in different Indian herbaria specially the herbartia of the Botanical Survey of India. A few field trips were carried out in the Western Himalaya and the Eastern Himalaya and the collections were supplemented for this study”
They do say how many field trips or what areas were covered but clearly very few and limited in extent.
To rely too heavily on herbarium specimens solely in Indian herbaria is a fundamental shortcoming.
They also have omitted ESSENTIAL references (and ignored/ contradicted the findings of others).
I have had a quick look through their list of references and I immediately note glaring omissions and even when a reference is given my first impressions are that the content has not always been utilised.
It is ESSENTIAL that botanists undertaking revisions can assess the reliability or not of reference articles and books.
Missing from the references:
Ludlow’s ‘The Primulas of Kashmir’ (in this Ludlow correctly reduces Primula heydei (which was recognised by Watt in 1882 as separate from P.minutissima); the author rightly states that in Primula the scape frequently elongates during the fruiting stage (how would the authors of this latest revision know this as they have spent so little time in the field examining living specimens) such that this factor alone can hardly be regarded as a reliable one; his own experience in the field including the location where the type specimens were collected, confirmed this – I wholeheartedly agree; for the authors to question Richards, who follows Ludlow, is mistaken! I will explain further when I cover P.minutissima (syn. P.heydei) in a separate post.
Coventry’s ‘Wild Flowers of Kashmir’ Series I-III (which contains useful information on the characteristics and habitats of several Kashmir species)
The standard of photographic reproduction is awful – not acceptable nowadays.
Quite how the price is justified, I do not know.
And the images:
Plates I-III are appalling, many completely out-of-focus, exposed poorly and small.
For someone to attempt a taxonomic revision who is not a competent photographer able to use a digital camera with a macro lenses, is inexcusable.
How the publishers dared to reproduce images like these, I cannot understand. They should be ashamed.
As for the images (I am sure many who purchased the book were expecting lots of good quality photos) so will have been hugely disappointed and felt tricked. There should have been good photos of most species taken in the wild:
Photo O – this is clearly not P.munroi (formerly P.involucrata) the flower head and foliage does not come close but I struggle to guess what it is, the image is out-of-focus and the exposure way off.
As for the ‘photographs’ of ‘nomenclatural types’ these are too small, too dark – the original scans being of low resolution – thus, as for the images of herbarium specimens available of the Kew site, of strictly limited use. Some are ridiculously small!
A few are larger and clearer, which have some use but these should have all have been much larger, clearer and each occupying a full page – thus going some way to justify the price!
This seems more than sufficient to digest. I shall next cover individual species, starting with those I know well, firstly Primula elliptica.
Link of photos of some India species from this:
New distributional records of Primula species in Arunachal Pradesh, India by A Bawri, P R Gajurel and M. L. Khan- Bioscience Discovery, 5(1):06-10, Jan. 2014-
Abstract– The paper highlighted the three Primula species which are new records for Arunachal Pradesh, viz. Primula gambeliana Watt, P. ioessa W. W. Sm., and P. involucrata Wall. The scrutiny of literature and our field assessment ascertained that the occurrence and population status of these species is very rare and poor. During study it was observed that various natural and anthropogenic threats like landslides, grazing and development activities have led the pressure on the habitat of Primula species. Considering the rich and dense species diversity of Primula, the Arunachal Pradesh may be considered as centre of diversity of the Indo-Chinese Primula species and appropriate conservation strategy should be adopted for the conservation of this genetic resource diversity.
Record of Primula waltonii Watt ex I.B. Balfour (Primulaceae) from Arunachal Himalaya with taxonomic notes by A. Bawri, P. R. Gajurel1 and M. L. Khan- Pleione 7(1): xxx – xxx. 2013.
Abstract : Primula waltonii Watt ex I.B. Balfour (Primulaceae) a little known species from Indian Eastern Himalayan region is now reported and described from the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The species is poorly represented in literature and herbarium collections. Detailed morphological description and other relevant information are provided to facilitate easy identification of the species.
An analysis on the distribution of the Indian taxa of the genus Primula Linn., in the eastern Himalalaya with remarks on the species of Assam by RB Ghosh – 1981-
In the present communication, 99 species, 4 sub-species & 10 varieties are recorded …..
Primula assamica H.R.Fletcher
Primula calderiana var. acaulescens
Primula calderiana var. alba (W.W. Sm.) W.W. Sm. & H.R. Fletcher is a synonym of Primula calderiana Balf. f. & R.E. Cooper
Primula calthifolia W.W. Sm.
Primula capitata subsp. craibeana (Balf. f. & W.W. Sm.) W.W. Sm. & Forrest is a synonym of Primula capitata subsp. lacteocapitata (Balf. f. & W.W. Sm.) W.W. Sm. & Forrest
Primula capitata subsp. mooreana (Balf. f. & W.W. Sm.) W.W. Sm. & Forrest is a synonym of Primula capitata Hook.
Primula chasmophila Balf.f. ex Hutch.
Primula chungensis Balf. f. & Kingdon-Ward
Primula clutterbuckii Kingdon-Ward
Primula concholoba Stapf & Sealy
Primula cooperi Balf.f.
Primula dickieana var. aureostellata = Primula aureostellata Balf.f. & R.E.Cooper
Primula eburnea Balf. f. & R.E. Cooper
Primula emiliae Balf.f. ex R.E.Cooper
Primula erythra H.R.Fletcher
Primula erythrocarpa W. G. Craib
Primula flagellaris W.W.Sm.
Primula ianthina Balf.f. & Cave
Primula jigmediana W.W.Sm.
Primula jonardunii W.W. Sm. is a synonym of Primula dryadifolia subsp. jonardunii (W.W. Sm.) F.H. Chen & C.M. Hu
Primula khasiana Balf.f. & W.W.Sm.
Primula ludlowii W.W.Sm.
Primula melanodonta W.W. Sm.
Primula melichlora Balf.f. & W.W.Sm.
Primula mishmiensis Kingdon-Ward is a synonym of Primula calliantha subsp. mishmiensis (Kingdon-Ward) C.M. Hu
Primula normaniana Kingdon-Ward is a synonym of Primula vaginata subsp. normaniana (Kingdon-Ward) F.H. Chen & C.M. Hu
Primula polonensis Kingdon-Ward
Primula prolifera Wall.
Primula sikkimensis var. hopeana = Primula hopeana Balf.f. & R.E.Cooper
Primula sikkimensis var. pudibunda (W.W. Sm.) W.W. Sm. & H.R. Fletcher is a synonym of Primula sikkimensis Hook.
Primula smithiana W. G. Craib
Primula spathulifolia Craib = Primula minutissima
Primula strumosa Balf. f. & R.E. Cooper var. perlata
Primula tenella King ex Hook. f.
Primula umbratilis Balf.f. & R.E.Cooper
Primula umbratilis Balf.f. & R.E.Cooper var. alba
Primula waddellii Balf. f. & W.W. Sm.
Primula wattii King ex Watt
Primula xanthopa Balf.f. & R.E.Cooper
Primula kingii G. Watt (Primulaceae) – a new record for West Bengal, India by P. C. Rai 1 and A. P. Das- Pleione 6(2): 438 – 441. 2012.
Abstract : Primula kingii G. Watt (Primulaceae) has been reported here for the first time from the State of West Bengal, India. Also, it is the recollection of the species from the Indian territory nearly after a century. A detailed taxonomic description along with photographs is provided for its easy recognition. The species was found growing in a very small patch on marshy and confined area of Jorpokhari of Neora Valley National Park in Kalimpong Sub-Division of Darjeeling District of West Bengal at an altitude of 3400 m.
Ethno-pharmacological review of genus Primula by *Khaleefa Aslam, Irshad A. Nawchoo, Mohammad Aslam Bhat, Aijaz H. Ganie and Nida Aslam- International Journal of Advanced Research (2014), Volume 2, Issue 4, 29-34-
Abstract- Primula is a large genus of perennial herbs comprising of 430–500 species growing in the humid and moderate climatic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Different plant species of the genus Primula have been used from times immemorial to treat various ailments and phytochemical investigation on various species revealed presence of various phytochemicals considered as a source of medicinal agents. This review on the genus covers its distribution, traditional uses and phytochemical uses of its different species.
Species & Distribution as per the above document:
Primula bellidifolia Sikkim Himalya
P. capitata Sikkim and Bhutan Himalaya
P. clarkie Kashmir
P. concinna Sikkim Himalaya (Tibetian Passes)
P. denticulata Temperate Himalaya (Kashmir-Bhutan)
P. dickiena Sikkim Himalaya (Lachen)
P. elliptica Western Himalaya (Kashmir-Lahul)
P. elongata Sikkim Himalaya (Zemu valley)
P. elwesiana (= Omphalogramma elwesianum (King ex G. Watt) Franch.) Sikkim Himalaya
P. erosa Temperate Himalaya (Kumaon-Bhutan)
P. farinosa Western Tibet
P. filipes Bhutan
P. floribunda Western Himalaya (Kumaon-Kashmir)
P. gambeliana Sikkim Himalaya (Jongri)
P. geraniifolia Eastern Tibet (Chumbi valley)
P. glabra Sikkim Himalaya, Zanskar, Lahul
P. hookeri Sikkim Himalaya (Laeben)
P. involucrata Alpine Himalaya (Kashmir-Sikkim, Western Tibet)
P. kingii Sikkim Himalaya (Natong)
P. listeri Sikkim Himalaya (Tonglo and Singhalela ranges)
P. minutissima Alpine Himalaya (Kashmir-Kumaon)
P. mollis Eastern Himalaya (Bhutan)
P. muscoides Sikkim Himalaya (kankola pass)
P. obtusifolia Western and Eastern Himalaya
P. petiolaris Temperate (Simla-Bhutan)
P. prolifera Khasia Hills
P. pulchra Sikkim Himalaya (Lachen)
P. pusilla Central and Eastern Himalaya (Nepal,Sikkim)
P. reptans Western Himalaya (Kashmir,Burjila)
P. reticulata Central and Eastern Himalaya (Nepal,Sikkim)
P. rosea Western Himalaya (Kulu –Kashmir)
P. rotundifolia Temperate Himalaya (Kashmir-Sikkim)
P. sappihirina Sikkim Himalaya
P. sikkimeensis Sikkim Himalaya
P. soldanelloides Sikkim Himalaya (Kankola pass)
P. stirtoniana Sikkim Himalaya (Kanglanamo)
P. stuartii Subalpine and Alpine Himalaya and Tibet
P. tenella Eastern Tibet (Chumbi valley)
P. tibetica Western Himalaya (Kumaon,Tibet,Sikkim frontier)
P. vaginata Sikkim Himalaya (Laghep)
Species with description &
Ecology, Diversity, and Conservation of Plants and Ecosystems in India edited by H. N. Pandey, S. K. Barik (2006)-
Alpine plants, a practical manual for their culture By W. A. Clark-
Floriculture in India By Gurcharan Singh Randhawa, Amitabha Mukhopadhyay (1986)- brief details-
Forest Plants of Eastern India By Amal Bhusan Chaudhuri (1993)- Brief details-
Primula tenella King ex Hook. f.
Gardening in India By George Marshall Woodrow, G Marshall (1999)- Details-
Primula: 1 post by 1 author.
I have updated eFI (efloraofindia) page on Primula
Attempts have been made to incorporate most of the species available in India & nearby areas with details & keys directly or through links as far as possible. It’s quite possible that there may be some discrepancy in the accepted names & synonyms taken from other links.
Species discussed so far in efloraofindia are given at the bottom of the page in the form of links against Subpages. On clicking them one can see all the details.
If someone can provide complete list of Indian species with source references it will be wonderful.
Any comments/ corrections are welcome.