Saxifraga poluniniana Harry Sm., Bull. Brit. Mus. (Nat. Hist.) Bot. 2: 114 1958.;
Nepal as per Catalogue of life;
Saxifraga andersonii ??? : 6 posts by 3 authors. 5 high res. images.
Enclosing some pictures for ID verification please.
Pictures were shot at Dhumba Lake Jomsom Nepal at 8900 ft on 22 April 2013
Or Saxifraga hypostoma ??
Interesting Saxifraga species. Never seen in Uttarakhand.
I think it appears close to Saxifraga andersonii out of the two as per http://www.saxifraga.org/plants/saxbase/taxon.asp?Taxon=447
Shall I take it as Saxifraga andersonii Engl. (accepted name) ??
The saxifraga in the above images is S. poluniniana.
Thank you … for correct ID. It was pending since a long time. Thank you …
Saxifraga poluninana H. Sm.
I am pleased to have another person contributing about identification of Himalayan plants but do not have sufficient knowledge of the Saxifraga genus in Nepal to confirm Tim’s name. It may well be correct, just that I am not in a position to agree or not. Always best to express a degree of caution when one is uncertain, as far as plant identification is concerned – which applies to me in this case.
I am not a Saxifraga specialist but have started to taking an interest in the species of this genus found in the NW Himalaya (by this I primarily mean those recorded from Kashmir & Himachal Pradesh). The only ‘Kabschia’ (those with lime-encrusted leaves) species known from the NW of the Himalaya is S.pulvinaria – according to the records I currently have.
My understanding is that what was known as the ‘Kabschia’ Saxifrages present challenges identification-wise. I was sent, some 20 years ago, some notes of Saxifrages observed at high-altitudes in the Mustang district of Nepal, including hybrids. I shall look these out and summarise the findings at some point – as they will help improve our understanding.
According to ‘Flowers of the Himalaya’, Saxifraga andersonii is common in the drier areas of W.Nepal, recorded from W.Nepal to SE Tibet on stony slopes & amongst rocks @ 3600-5200m. This is what I assumed I saw below the Dhaulagiri ice-falls during my first visit to Nepal in 1990. But one needs to recognise that ‘Flowers of the Himalaya’ only covers a fraction of the total flora of the Himalaya with space permitting only very brief, summarised descriptions, which are of limited value.
‘Flowers of the Himalaya’ describes S.poluninana* as rather lax, mat-forming with solitary short-stalked white flowers often pink-flushed in the sun, on rocks in W & C. Nepal @ 3300-3500. Its inclusion by Polunin & Stainton implies it should be quite common at such elevations in these habitats in Central & W.Nepal. Thus the record from Dhumba Lake is significantly lower than previously known.
*Presumably this was named in honour of Oleg Polunin, co-author of ‘Flowers of the Himalaya’. The TYPE specimen was collected during the 1952 Polunin, Sykes & Williams Expedition to Nepal.
I certainly feel ‘Kabschias’ (in addition to S.pulvinaria) should be looked out for in Uttarakhand. Perhaps some have already been recorded there in recent decades?
I shall be posting a couple of images of what was labelled as Saxifraga poluniniana at a specialist horticultural society show in the UK some 30 years ago – whether it really was this species, is quite another matter. Many crosses have been made amongst ‘Kabschia’ Saxifrages, making it very difficult to differentiate between them in cultivation.
As for the suggestion of S.hypostoma, according to ‘Enumeration of the Flowering Plants of Nepal’ this had only been recorded between 4300-5200m (West & Central Nepal). Perhaps more recent records exist beyond this altitudinal range.
Fwd: Saxifraga ‘poluniniana’ in cultivation : 10 posts by 4 authors. Attachments (2)
See 2 images scanned in from slides taken some 30 years ago at a horticultural society show in the UK.
They were labelled as Saxifraga poluniniana – certainly an impressive specimen for the show-bench but I am sure that few, if any of those judging the competition or admiring this saxifrage were in a position to judge if it had been correctly identified.
IF anyone with sufficient knowledge, considers this does NOT fit with S.poluniniana, perhaps they could suggest that it might be?
The most skilled and dedicated growers of alpine plants/ rockery subjects can grow them to PERFECTION – better than anything I have seen in the wild.
It requires EXCEPTIONAL ability, often accumulated from DECADES of practice, at times grown in special ALPINE-HOUSES (I have never seen such specialist glass-houses in India) to raise such wonderful specimens in pots.
Indeed, identifying plants reliably is often a challenge but it is important to be aware when particular genera or certain taxa within genera present additional difficulties.
Our knowledge of many of these difficult genera has been much enhanced as a result of interest in their cultivation in the West. Unfortunately, ever-increasing rules, regulations and restrictions, no matter how “sound” or not they appear on the surface, will unquestionably damage and reduce our understanding of Himalayan flora. And DAMAGE conservation efforts.
We ALL need to interact and collaborate internationally. There is no doubting that specialist horticultural interest in many Himalayan genera was a driving force behind plant exploration along the Himalaya and indirectly botanical studies.
I shall continue to proclaim that unless plants are reliably identified, whether in the wild or cultivation and they have been intensively surveyed both in cultivation and the wild, it is impossible to meaningfully conserve them.
The involvement of specialist growers and specialist horticultural societies, whether in the UK, Europe or North America should be welcomed and encouraged – as such enthusiasts are in a position to contribute so much. There are insufficient resources and too little man-power at the major botanic gardens alone.
When working as a consultant to The Royal Government of Bhutan on ‘The Cultivation of Medicinal Plants for Traditional Medicine’, it was not my own first-hand knowledge which I utilised but the accumulated experience of individuals and such societies, which enabled me to offer advice.
All this is going to be lost in the coming years…… What a waste.
The two pot grown specimen are what is grown in the UK as S. poluniniana. The ones in the photo’s are a George Smith collection as S. poluniniana GFS3, from the Kali Gandaki, Nepal, no altitude was given. It is still being grown in the UK.
I have seen S. poluniniana in the Marsyandi Valley at Bhratang just below 3000m. The plants only grew in the lowest parts of the cliff just above the path in damp areas. Growing higher up on the cliffs was S. cineria. The two species hybridize creating a whole range of hybrids. This natural hybrid is now known as Saxifraga x bhratangensis and is being distibuted by specialist growers in the UK.
Thanks for additional information.
Dr George Smith, was a chemistry lecturer from the University of Manchester, UK, (if my memory serves me correctly) who had a passion for “high-alpines”.
He was co-author of ‘Androsaces’ with Duncan Lowe (Alpine Garden Society, 1977) which describes a number of Himalayan species.
In this book is an illustration of ‘The Hidden Valley’ at 4900m, north of Dhaulagiri, Nepal, home to such choice Androsaces as A.tapete, zambalensis and muscoidea. The passes into and out of this valley are 5000m+.
There is a risk and price to be paid for plant exploration in such places. Corydalis alburyi, a Central Nepal endemic illustrated in the ‘Supplement to Flowers of the Himalaya’, honours a companion of Dr Smith, who died in this valley.
Thanks, … We are also getting in flora history with all your details.
As … says, Dr G F Smith was the author of ‘Androsace’ and Duncan Lowe illustrated it with his superb line drawings, most were taken from herbarium specimens. I was very lucky to know both GFS and D B Lowe personally and spent many hours listening to and learning from both of them.
On my first trek to Nepal along with Peter Boardman we passed over the Dhampus Pass into the Hidden Valley, we paid our respects to Sidney Aubrey at his cairn on the Dhampus Pass and saw Corydalis alburyi growig close by.
We spent 12 days at above 5000m in the Hidden Valley and saw many species of androsace (robusta var. purpurea, tapete and zambalensis}, saxifraga (andersonii, hypostoma, pulvinaria) and other high alpine plants.
As to Saxifraga cinerea H.Smith (please note correct spelling of species name), according to Enumeration of Flowering Plants of Nepal, the TYPE specimen was collected by Donald Lowndes @ 2700m in Central Nepal.
The Plant List considers this to be an unresolved name……
According to the authors, this species and Saxifraga micans H.Smith (TYPE specimen collected by Polunin, Sykes & Williams @ 3700m in Central Nepal), can be united with Saxifraga stolizkae Duthie ex Engl. & Irmsch., known from West Nepal @ 3000-4300m – also Kumaon and through to Bhutan.
The Plant List considers both Saxifraga stolizkae and S.micans to be unresolved names……..
Flora of Bhutan Vol 1 Part 3 (1987) lists S.stolitzkae Engler & Irmscher from damp cliffs @ 3650m only in a limited part of Thimphu district, Bhutan with no records from Sikkim. The authors describe this as similar to S.andersonii but leaves lime-encrusted in the upper half from 7-11 marginal pits, longer peduncles, calyx purplish – whether such attributes apply in Kumaon, I do not know – assuming it is valid to differentiate this species in the first place?
I wonder what the current thinking is about the above issues about nomenclature and taxonomic treatment of these Saxifrage species within the circles who have cultivated what they consider to be these species?