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China: Sichuan & Yunnan 2019

This tour explores the flora of the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan. Over three weeks in mid-June 2019, John Mitchell (Alpine Supervisor at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh) led our members through the provinces to see some spectacular wildflowers. See some of the highlights below.
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The tour began in Chengdu where a visit to the Panda Breeding Centre got the trip off to a great start.

Next up was a few days of botanising on Balang Shan in Sichuan. Here, highlights included Meconopsis, a dark form of Cypripedium tibeticum, Lilium lophophorum and a white Omphalogramma.

From there, the tour moved onto Tagong. This small town sits at 3800m altitude on the East Tibetan Plateau. Here the plants included Stellera, more Meconopsis and Dolomiaea. They also spotted Tibetan prayers etched onto the rocks and boulders along the river.

Day 6 of the trip brought the drive to Kangding (the capital and largest city of Garzê Tibetan Prefecture in western Sichuan). While exploring plants at the lower elevation on Zheduo Shan mountain pass, they saw the striking black Primula melanantha, Pedicularis variegata and even more Meconopsis.

A visit to Grey Lake, just south of Kangding, found Rhodiola, Meconopsis rudis and a new location for Chinocharis hookeri.

A full day of botanising at Zhegu Shan mountain pass saw highlights of Rheum and Astragalus.

On Day 9, it was time to leave Kangding and drive to Yajiang. They stopped en route to botanise on Gaoersi Pass (4412m) and saw Cypripedium guttatum and Incarvillea.

Reaching 4625m on the Jian Zi Kou (‘scissor’) pass, they saw Pleurospermum, Ajuga and Lamiophlomis.

On the jeep tour of Hong Shan, the group botanised on the top pass. Highlights were Saussurea leucoma, Cremanthodium decaisnei and Meconopsis rudis.

Corydalis hamata, Primula boreiocalliantha and a meadow of P. sikkimensis and P. secundiflora were found at 4300m on Hong Shan.

A visit to the stunning Tianchi Lake (translates to ‘Heavenly Lake’) brought sights of Lilium souliei and Adonis davidii.

The next stop was Baima Shan with highlights of Meconopsis speciosa, Cremanthodium microglossum, Saussurea medusa and Gentiana wardii var. emergens.

(Photos: John Mitchell)