Primula minutissima Jacquem. ex Duby, Prodr. 8: 42 1844. (syn: Primula heydei Watt);
W. Himalaya to W. Tibet and W. Nepal as per POWO;
Common name: Heyde’s Primrose


Primula minutissima Jacq. ex Duby (Primulaceae) is a tiny carpet forming herb in alpine zones of Western Himalaya.
It is listed in 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants and in Red List of Threatened Vascular Plant Species in India (Rao et al. 2003). Though mentioned as Endangered, it requires review of status since in the above document it is shown growing only in Kashmir.
This photograph is taken from Kedarnath area (Uttarakhand) but unfortunately in late season (October) thus have no flowers. The rosettes of the plants are visible with preformed inflorescence bud in the center of rosette.
It is an addition to eFI database, I hope.

Interesting observation and upload …

Thanks … Definitely an addition to database.
Of course the flowers as you say are not seen here. Are they dry flowers , what we see here. As per description flowers are much larger than the tiny leaves.

I think this must be P.minutissima. Cannot think which other species it can be. It is a nonsense (as with Saxifraga jacquemontiana) to suggest this plant is Endangered.  It is no such thing. I repeat my comment that I am at a lost to know how species are included in the Red List of Threatened Vascular Plants in India (the only reason it is in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants is because they accepted what was submitted – they are in no position to check, just as the species accepted onto Appendices for CITES are accepted on no actual evidence as those from the Indian Himalaya are not ‘Rare & Endangered’. \ How can botanists who spend so little time in the field possibly know what is rare let alone endangered.  You do not discover this from an office!.
As Primula minutissima grows well in suitable habitat in Ladakh (I have seen it in several places including irrigation channels), also in the Kashmir Valley, Kulu Valley and know of it from Baspa Valley, Kinnuar, where it is flourishing.  ‘Flowers of Himalaya’ say stony slopes in areas near to the Tibetan border @ 3600-5200m. I don’t think the authors of these ‘Red Lists’ have spent much time on high passes in the borderlands of Tibet to know the status of populations of this plant, anymore than they know about colonies of Saxifraga jacquemontiana – neither of which is under any threat whatsoever.
But what about the species what are GENUINELY rare & endangered…. This is a seriously wrong situation which needs addressing at the highest levels nationally and internationally….   Claims of rarity MUST be based upon reliable and accurate information.  How many botanists in India have regularly botanised and surveyed in the high mountains?  And of these, how many can recognise, whilst in those mountains, such species as P.minutissima and Saxifraga jacquemontiana.  I have to an extent and can recognise them. So perhaps my reliable evidence is worth listening to. 

The major reason for including species in Red Data Book of Indian Plants (3 vols published by Botanical Survey of India in 1987,88,90 and edited by Nayar & Sastry) and later into other such documents like 1997 IUCN Redlist of Threatened Plants (Rao et al. 2003) was herbarium studies in Indian herbaria. Species not collected since long or less collected were also included in list of red taxa in addition to species facing exploitation for various purposes.
As said by …, I also believe that the status of these species need to be reviewed in light of current IUCN criteria and extensive field work in the probable localities all along their distribution range.
Do we have resources, dedicated field workers ready to explore extremely difficult terrains, and earnest desire to do so are the issues related to this aspect of declaring plants Endangered/ Rare / Extinct.

I am supportive of the sound comments of …
One cannot rely upon records from herbaria alone.  Active field botanists who can reliably identify the plants they encounter during surveys are essential.   The relative presence or not of specimens of particular species collected since Indian Independence cf. before may just be a reflection of how often and whom, botanises in the higher mountains…..
Botanists exhibit varying levels of field skills and ability to cope with the rigours of exploring for plants in the mountains and this will impact on what is found. Not everyone is keen to leave the office or herbarium, especially if those at a higher level do not encourage field botany or recognise its importance.
As a young botanist and team-leader of a survey of riverside vegetation in Wales 34 years ago (where we surveyed 500km stretches of river-bank) comparisons for my team of surveyors were made on certain stretches i.e. we all surveyed the same stretch.  None of us spotted every species but, thankfully, I found the most.  Different field workers are more observant than others.  The project compared different stretches of river, assessing the richness on the basis of total number of plant species and their rarity.  Comparisons I instigated showed that much depended on whom did the surveying, which those who set up these surveys had not appreciated.  The results were published in a paper in the Journal of Biological Conservation.
It is challenging to botanise methodically and search carefully, especially in difficult terrain, not least at higher altitudes.  Not everyone can scramble about amongst rocks and boulders or steep slopes/cliffs.
I recollect the first time I reached the Baralacha La (pass) between Lahoul and Rupshu at some 4800m.  It was a bright sunny day in 1991.  I was using slide film in those days and KNEW the in-camera light metering would be confused by the conditions such that if I just took pictures the usual way the exposure would be wrong.  I KNEW I needed to do what was called “bracketing” the exposure but my head was light from the high elevation and shortage of oxygen and could not make myself do it…..
Similarly, I visited Ladakh just a few years ago and reached (again by vehicle) Chang La (over 5000m) not too far from Leh.  I was OK (albeit slow) when exploring over the pass but during a later stop, struggled even to move!
If someone like myself who is robust, spends time acclimatizing and enjoys being in the mountains, finds it hard-going (at times) then I am sure others do as well.  Not everyone is comfortable in mountains or copes with the altitude or can safely negotiate such terrain (in which case they become a liability).
It MUST be stressed that a true picture of a region’s flora cannot be found solely relying upon what grows within a few metres or at most a few hundred metres, of a road or track (certain cosmopolitan weeds may occur disproportionately in such places whilst some species will be missed altogether).  It is ESSENTIAL to both trek into the mountains and scramble amongst the rocks and boulders on steep slopes.
The Czech plant ecologists who have studied the ecology of such plants as Thylacospermum caespitsoum at the upper limits of flowering plants in Ladakh are to be commended.  They discovered new species and a new genus of flowering plant.  I have not been to such places in Ladakh
@ 5500-6000m! I do not know of too many Indian botanists who have.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to accurately assess the rarity or abundance of species which grow amongst rocks and boulders @ 4-5000m e,g. unless one surveys intensely in such habitats. This has not been happening, let alone 5000m+ (although species are few and far between at such extremes).
I have been lecturing about my travels in the Himalaya to clubs & societies in the UK for more than 30 years.  Audiences are often inspired by the images I show.  When speaking on Ladakh e.g., I stress that typical reaction of Westerners to such altitudes and conditions are lethargy, depression and a wish to go home at the earliest opportunity – not helped by a raking cough caused by the dry air!   And many a mountain ‘road’ is not for the faint-hearted.
I myself have suffered from serious gastro-intestinal difficulties (akin to food poisoning) on numerous occasions and had to return back to the UK prematurely on my first expedition. I wish I had known on my early expeditions a quick solution (all such episodes were cleared up within 24 hours in more recent years – the ‘cure’ being told me by a UK doctor working in India).  Must have been mad to continue….. I am reminded of the song “Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the Noon Day sun…”

Well said … Working at higher elevations in the Himalaya is quite difficult. For the last 25 years I have also realized the same. But my visits to higher elevation (maximum up to ca. 5500mi in Gangotri area of Uttarakhand) most of the time were self financed and ill prepared.
The results are obvious that I still do not recognize many of the alpine plants.
One should be very clear about the habitats of plants when surveying the plants. If a plant collector do not look below shady areas under a boulder Parietaria debilis can not be seen or collected. at least in Uttarakhand. Some of the plants are so tiny that can not be noticed if someone is standing within 1 m. Saxifraga minutissima is one with plants as large as only 1 cm with greenish flowers and the plant is similar to mosses around it. There are many which will appear in redlists because the plant collector were not aware of their habitats.


Primula minutissima Jacquem. ex Duby Prodr. 8: 42 1844.
Primula heydei Watt
Family: Primulaceae 

Rohtang Pass seems to have many Primula, including this rare species. Saw its flowers nearly two decades back, memories refreshed.

Yes sir, Rohtang is Primula’s paradaise. You must revisit. This is the right time…

This is correctly identified as Primula minutissima. Note that the photo labelled as Primula reptans in ‘Flowers of the Himalaya’ is in fact P.minutissima.
This species is known from Baltistan, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh (incl. Kulu Valley) and Baspa Valley, Kinnaur. It has been recorded as far SE along the Himalaya to Central Nepal (found by Polunin, Sykes & Williams in 1952).


Plumbaginaceae and Primulaceae (incl. Myrsinaceae) Fortnight: Primula reptans from Himachal: GSG-16 : 8 posts by 6 authors. Attachments (1)
Primula reptans from Himachal [Sach Pass, Chamba; 3900 m asl].
Merely 2 cm tall herb, with proportionally large flowers.

Himalaya has amazing diversity of Primulas and you have collected a lot of them Sir.
This is a rarer species making loose cushions on the moist slopes. Flowers are very large in comparison to leaves/ plants. Scape enlarges to great extent in fruiting stage to facilitate seed dispersal.

Thanks for nice words and the info…
I personally enjoy being amidst these alpine wonders and marvel at the colourscape laid out for us by Nature… It really is invigorating!!!

Another interesting upload, thanks …

Thanks Sir. I value your comments. Any encouragement coming from your side is a motivation for exploring the Nature more thoroughly.

This is again a beauty shared from your treasure..
These are all very beautiful Primulas, and the habitats are very pleasant..
Thanks … for showing your great collection…

Great collection indeed. You are lucky to get these many species of Primulas.
Primula reptans is similar to P.minutissima forming mats of rosettes, but even smaller leaves without farina.
Flowers solitary pink purple with obcordate crolla lobes, deeply notched very well seen in your pictures. Leaves only 4-6mm deeply toothed and with recurved margin.

Sorry, this is Primula minutissima not P.reptans.  The two seem to be much confused.  I repeat from one posting confirming the identity of Primula elliptica from Kashmir that the situation has been complicated by the error in ‘Flowers of the Himalaya’ which shows a Primula photographed in Kulu Valley labelled as P.reptans but is actually Primula minutissima, as is this one.
The foliage of Primula minutissima is clearly visible but the undersides which have farina is not.
I last photographed P.minutissima on the Sinthan Pass in Kashmir.  P.reptans is found on the Sach Pass.
Both species are found on the top of the Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh, though P.reptans is much commoner – at least is was in the 1980s when I first led two botanical tours in the region.  Unfortunately, large numbers of tourists especially those riding ponies at the main pass have trampled large colonies out of existence!

PLANT FOR ID 103 SMP JUN 09 Lahaul- Spiti : 4 posts by 4 authors. Attachments (1)
This one from Himalayas appears to be Primula reptans.

Good catch! And it does indeed look like Primula reptans

No, this is Primula minutissima – as one would expect in Lahaul-Spiti.
P.reptans occurs on the top of the Rohtang Pass and may (just) survive on the Lahul-side. There is even a record for Ladakh but I am sure it will be from a place close to the border with Kashmir, which receives higher rainfall.

Primula reptans : 4 posts by 4 authors. Attachments (1)
Primula reptans

Family: Primulaceae
Location: Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh
… and myself have been mind boggling since past few weeks
over Primula, so I thought of putting up some pics of mine of Primula
from Himachal and Uttarakhand.

Description of the Plant from FOI by … flowersofindia

No, this is not Primula reptans but Primula minutissima. … photo on the FOI site has been correctly identified as P.reptans.
Both P.reptans and P.minutissima are on the Rohtang – the former is common the latter species less so.


I’d 290622 JM3: 1 image.
On way from Syok valley to Warila Pass 17200 ft, on 17.6.22, Ladakh.

Looks like Primula

Primula minutissima Jacquem. ex Duby. ??

Yes, it appears close to images at Primula minutissima Jacquem. ex Duby
Attaching another high res. images.

Attaching cropped high res. images.
3 high res. images.

Primula minutissima