Fwd: New plant records for Ladakh – NEGLECTED FAMILIES incl. Poaceae : 1 post by 1 author.
The Indian Himalaya and ‘Trans-Himalaya’ represent a vast area, which to this day have not been surveyed well.
This particularly applies to higher altitudes and steep slopes (particularly mountain slopes which require any sort of scramble to negotiate).
Until these places are explored in much more, we really only have the most rudimentary knowledge of the flora which is present.
A further major weakness is in terms of plant families which have either small, insignificant or non-showy flowers. These are often completely
neglected by collectors (of pressed specimens) and/or plant photographers.
The situation is exacerbated when there are few available specialist botanists to reliably identify members of these families or such botanists operate in isolation from others in other countries.
However, it is not just locations away from the main routes/roads/tracks/passes which have been neglected.
In 1980, I led a team of 3 recent graduates, surveying the vegetation of part of the Suru Valley, Ladakh. The expedition, which was primarily ornithological in nature, was not equipped for any treks nor were my companions experienced enough in mountain environments to safely negotiate any scrambles, so we limited ourselves to habitats within a short distance of, though not right beside, the ‘road’, as it was –
since this tends to be the haunt of cosmopolitan and other weeds, rather than native flora, which naturally of greatest interest; I noted a number of such weeds around Kargil.
Despite such limitations, my team & I collected pressed specimens of no fewer than 5 grass species which seem to be firsts for Ladakh. Most also appear to be firsts for Kashmir and perhaps India as a whole?
Duplicate specimens of these grasses (along with other specimens collected) were deposited in the herbarium at the University of Kashmir, Srinagar.
One set of specimens was deposited in the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew – enabling the world authority of what is now the Poaceae family (then the Gramineae), Dr Cope, to determine the specimens.
For the record:
Festuca valesiaca Gaud – first record outside of Gilgit (and thus a first for India). * I note that Stewart gives F.valesiaca Schleich. ex Gaud. as a synonym for F.ovina L. – which he considered very variable and very common at high altitudes on passes and mountain tops incl. Kashmir and Ladakh. I do not know what the current treatment of this taxon is?
Piptatherum laterale (Munro ex Regel) Roshev. – first for Kashmir
Agrostis vinealis Schreb. – new for Ladakh; I can see no record for Kashmir either
Elymus schrenkianus (Fisch & Mey) Tzvelev – new for Ladakh; I can see no record for Kashmir either
Stipa prichoides P.Smirn. new for Ladakh & Kashmir
Several other species, belonging to other families, also constituted new records for Ladakh