Flower for ID (27/06/2011 NSJ-01):
ID requested for the attached herb.

Location – Gulmarg Hills (Trek Route)
Habitat- Wild
Plant around 6″ tall

Photo Taken on May 31, 2011.
Please not that the photo is not clear & unfortunately only one shot is available.

Some Stellaria sp. experts view awaited

Should be Cerastium fontanum subsp. grandiflorum

Since C. fontanum var. subsp. grandiflorum is not reported from this area, C. thomsonii can be likely choice.

Though images is not clear, it is closer to images at Cerastium fontanum Baumg.

Assuming it is a Cerastium, this is difficult, even with more images, in sharp focus, showing detail of flowers, foliage stems etc.
Stewart, commented, “Cerastium is a very difficult genus and is treated differently by the various authors.  Much more material from our area is desirable..
There is still no agreement as to the best way to treat the C.vulgatum-triviale-glomeratum complex”.
I shall share some of the information from Stewart but am not in a position at this stage to speak with confidence. Sometimes, it is currently impossible to speak authoritatively about certain species/genera, unless one is a specialist in the group, which I am not. Also, numerous genera in the Himalaya are in need of further intensive study, requiring revision – in such circumstances, efforts at identification, especially from single, blurred images, is at best challenging and often spending much time trying is not justified.
Plant identification has traditionally been based upon close examination (at x10 to x20 magnification with hand lenses or binocular microscopes or sometimes at higher magnification of dried pressed specimens, sometimes with individual flowers being dissected and their detailed characteristics being noted or drawn) – unless one can see such detail in photos (seldom the case in non-close-up shots) there is a limit to how far we can proceed/the confidence we can have in our identifications.  Without such pressed specimens to inspect, we often struggle and this needs to be recognise.  Photos alone, even with the advent of digital photography, has its limitations – no matter how much expertise a person has.   This is why some specialists in particular genera are only willing to attempt to identify from pressed specimens, not photos.
Returning to what is known: Stewart lists Cerastium fontanum Baumg. subsp. triviale as common in Kashmir @ 1500-3600m. C.glomeratum Thuill. with records from Kashmir @ 2100-4200m. He considered records for C.vulgatum var. grandiflorum and C.vulgatum var. tibetica from Ladakh as dubious.
Complicated, I think. Perhaps there is an expert on Cerastium who can advise us further?



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