Fwd: Geraniums of Ladakh Part II : 11 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (4)
Here with further images of Geraniums scanned in from slides taken in the 1980s:
3. Near Pensi La, Zanskar
4. Of known medicinal usage
I would welcome the thoughts of members as to their identify? I know what I think.
Disappointed that nobody else has suggested an identification.
I shall comment further about my present understanding of Geraniums in Ladakh but for the time-being will say that I am in agreement with the listing by Dickore & Klimes (2005) for Ladakh of:
G.pratense susbp. stewartianum (though have not seen it in Ladakh myself – the nearest being Baltal near Sonamarg at the bottom of the Zoji La)
Dr. M.K. Kaul has mentioned one more species of Geranium for Ladakh in his book ‘Medicinal Plants of Kashmir and Ladakh’ (1997). It is G. aconitifolium reported from Zanskar, Ladakh. Roots of this plant are used medicinally in cough. It is also used in wound healing in cattle.
The identification of Himalayan Geraniums is not straightforward.
Thanks for your contribution but the author of G. aconitifolium is not provided. Please ALWAYS include this when there is ANY question-mark as to identification. We often omit them, which is fine when there is no doubt as to usage i.e. that the species name has not been used by more than one author.
Stewart recorded G.aconitifolium sensu Edgew, in FBI from N.Pakistan incl. Baltistan and Skardu (also a single specimen from Lidder Valley) along with W.Tibet (a Falconer specimen) – Ladakh was known as ‘Western Tibet’ during the British days but not all 19th Century pressed specimens marked as W.Tibet were from Ladakh territory.
Kala in ‘Medicinal Plants of Indian Trans-Himalaya’ – which covers Zanskar, does not mention G.aconitifolium but there are numerous misidentifications and questionable identifications that this has no significance.
Aswal & Mehrotra (1999) in ‘Flora of Lahaul-Spiti’ claim G.pseudo-aconitiifolium Blatter with G.aconitifolium sensu Edgew. & Hook.f. as a synonym! They say this is common on alpine grassy slopes at Khoksar. They also recognise a var. album which they published in Indian Journal of Forestry. Blatter was not a trained taxonomist. His ‘Beautiful Flowers of Kashmir’ 2 Vols are littered with mistakes and should not be viewed as a reliable reference source. Whereas Coventy’s ‘Wild Flowers of Kashmir’ a Series of 3. can be – though now out-of-date in terms of some of the nomenclature.
Geraniaceae Flora of Pakistan has G.aconitifolium sensu Edgew. & Hook.f. as a synonym of Geranium collinum Steph. ex Willd (the type of which was described from Siberia) gives a similar distribution to Stewart.
Another list (cannot locate it at present) has G.aconitifolium L.Her. – which is different from G.aconitifolium sensu Edgew.?
‘An Assessment of Diversity of Genus Geranium… in India with Special Emphasis on Indian Himalayan Region’ (2015) does NOT mention G.aconitifolium – which regardless of whether the authors accepted this name/ identification SHOULD have been mentioned at the very least, from a publication in 1997.
Yeo gives Geranium aconitifolium L.’Heritier (abbreviated as as a synonoym of Geranium rivulare. He says this is found in the W & centre of
the European Alps.
So IF the Geranium Dr Kaul was referring to is G.aconitifolium sensu Edgew., its occurrence in Ladakh is FEASIBLE – though would represent a NEW record for Ladakh but IF sensu L.’Heritier’, then highly questionable.
Either way, kindly let me know the author of this specific epiphet as I do not have access to ‘Medicinal Plants of Kashmir & Ladakh’. Would you also check where VOUCHER pressed specimens were deposited for this study (IF this information is provided) and who DETERMINED this geranium from Zanskar? Unless one has a pressed specimen to CHECK, it is difficult to be sure about
Would you also list which other species of Geranium were recorded from Ladakh and also Kashmir in this book?
Until then, I must express uncertainty with the occurrence of G.aconitifolium in Ladakh.
As for the medicinal usage of Geraniums. Koelz states that in the 1930s a black dye is made by boiling the root with a sulphurous raw material
in Lahoul. At that time the root was popularly applied as a poultice to bruises whilst local physicians of Tibetan medicine used the plant for stomach conditions. Known as ‘Ga-dur’ or ‘Ligadur‘ in Tibetan. A number of Geranium species (according to Western Science) are collected under this name. One book I have with paintings of plants utilised in Tibetan Medicine shows Geranium wallichianum but this species is not known from Ladakh.
In Bhutan it appears both Geranium lambertii and G.refractum are collected under this these Tibetan names.
See image attached of roots of Geranium collected by an amchi for usage in Tibetan Medicine which were photographed as a slide in the 1980s for …, which has been scanned in.
Dr. Kaul, who was scientist at RRL (CSIR), has mentioned G. aconitifolium L. Herit in his publication. He has not mentioned any more details.
As I was not aware of two plants with the same name by two authors, I skipped the authority with the name.
Another book, ‘Ethnobotany and Plants of Trans-Himalaya by Chaurasia, Ahmad and Ballabh have reported:
G. collinum Steph. ex Willd.
G. meeboldii Brig.
G. pretense L.
G. sibiricum L.
G. tuberaria Camb.
Thanks for additional information. According to ‘The Plant List’ there is yet another i.e. Geranium aconitifolium Eichw. – an “Unresolved” name….
Based on Geranium aconitifolium L.Herit – which is an abbreviation for L.’Heritier, this is a synonym, for Geranium rivulare Vill. (full name Villars) only known from W & centre of the European Alps, so cannot but conclude this is a misidentification on the part of Dr Kaul.
I suspect I have an explanation for this and it lies in the incorrect reliance by many Indian botanists upon Hooker’s Flora of Britain India – which I commented on (and received strong criticism for doing so) previously.
In Vol 1 of FBI is Geranium aconitifolium L’Herit based upon a specimen from W.Tibet collected by Falconer.
Hooker observes that the distribution of this species was the Alps of Switzerland & N.Italy – though he noted a difference.
Hooker and his co-authors did a remarkable job (for that time) based on strictly limited material but that was the 19th Century and one CAN NOT rely upon this flora ALONE. Yes, it is worthwhile to refer to it and UNDERSTAND what WAS thought but too much isolation from current treatments of genera since Indian Independence HAS been a major problem. This, I think, is a case in point. Vol 1 which covers Geraniaceae was published in 1875 – more than 140 years ago. A LOT has happened since then…. SORRY but I do NEED to say this and the issue NEEDS to be addressed. OFFENCE must not be taken but measures put in place to deal with this shortcoming, which SHOULD be accepted. The answer is to ACTIVELY encourage International Collaboration.
Now let me initially comment on the species of Geranium listed in ‘Ethnobotany and Plants of Trans-Himalaya’ – which I do not possess a copy of. Most ethnobotanists (from ALL countries) are not trained in plant identification, so rely upon and tend to COPY what is in other publications.
I do not consider that the true Geranium collinum is found in Ladakh nor other Indian Trans-Himalayan districts – this is despite having the Geranium my team collected on my first visit to the ‘Himalaya’ (the University of Southampton Ladakh Expedition back in 1980) being named at Kew as G.collinum! The member of staff who named it had been on an expedition to Afghanisan (where I believe this species is found) and THOUGHT, at that time, it was this species. Currently I consider the plant we found in the Suru Valley to be Geranium himalayense.
As for Geranium meeboldii, Yeo gives this as a synonym of Geranium himalayense Klotzsch. This plant was probably correctly ‘identified’ but the nomenclature and taxonomic treatment was out-of-date.
G.pretense L. – the correct spelling is G.pratense L. IF by this they meant G.pratense subsp. stewartianum, then this probably is correctly
identified. But the G.pratense COMPLEX in the Tibetan borderlands requires further study.
G.sibiricum L. – this is known from the region, so seems OK to me.
G.tuberaria Camb. – this is not recorded DEFINITELY recorded from Ladakh. Stewart records it ONLY from 1500-2400m in N.Pakistan the hills about Srinagar and Kishtwar. There is a specimen from ‘Dras’ collected by Duthie but the lowest part of Ladakh is 2700m.
Flowers of the Himalaya record this from Pakistan to H.P. @ 1500-2500m on open slopes and in shrubberies being common in Chenab Valley (they have a photo taken in Chamba). I wonder about it occurrence in Ladakh proper.
It is not listed in ‘Flora of Lahaul-Spiti’. Nor by Yeo presumably as it is not known in cultivation.
Without being able to view a herbarium voucher specimen, I cannot say with certainty but given the difficulty of this genus, have ground to question the identification.
But just because an article, book or list includes species known to occur in a particular district does not guarantee that the authors correctly identified the specimens they came across – they could easily have mixed-up closely-related species. In the past UNLESS they gathered high quality VOUCHER specimens and had these DETERMINED in herbaria by skilled staff, their field-identifications could only be PROVISIONAL subject to CONFIRMATION.
Nowadays, PROVIDED a suitable number of images (covering all important parts of a plant) are taken on suitable digital cameras for EACH and EVERY species encountered and then the necessary reference sources exist to COMPARE and CHECK, there can be a photographic replacement for pressed specimens.
However, despite having offered a FREE identification service for Ladakh plants (and from surrounding regions) for several years, NO Indian botanist has EVER sent me any photos of plants from Ladakh or elsewhere in the Indian Himalaya for checking their identification. Last year, for the first time, I was sent some images from Ladakh by Indian NATURALISTS but they were not professional botanists….
It has NOT been difficult to find my web-sites.
Thank you very much for the detailed information on Geraniums from Himalaya, Sir.
In G. pratense, it was typing mistake on my part, as I typed it on mobile. Many times, it changes spellings on its own as dictionary is mostly on.
G. tuberaria has been mentioned to occur on rocky slopes in Changthang and Suru valley between 4390-4760m in the said book. That can be the case of misidentification. This plants is reported to be used for removing kidney stones and is known by a local name Yusiang.
As far as work on / photographs of Ladakh plants are concerned, some people from Kashmir University may be working on them and are not on this platform.
… has created this platform with an aim to document Indian plant diversity and has contributed a lot despite the fact that he is not a botanist. We can never forget his contributions, that have created interest in biodiversity and taxonomy among the botanists who are not taxonomists. Most of the members on efi are amateur botanist and nature lovers.
As far as botanical contributions on efi are concerned, it is our respected …, who has contributed more than 10000 posts and photographs. He is a great motivating force for all of us and a great teacher. He has done all this by spending his own resources and time. I wish, I had met him many years ago (I met him in 2015 for the first time and was highly impressed by his zeal and love for plants). Once I had messaged him on FB and asked, “how to become a taxonomist?” He beautifully replied, “start loving plants and you can become a taxonomist”. I had great interest in plants, but no formal training in taxonomy. I am doing all this as a hobby. Those, who are trained and professional taxonomists, are mostly not contributing to this group, as they may be busy with their own assignments and duties.
…, your contributions in correcting/ validating the identifications of Himalayan plants will always be recognised forever. Species pages on efi always mention the name of persons who contributed and who identified that species. You have great knowledge about Himalayan plants and it appears, you have also a good library on plants from this region.