Corrections to efloraofIndia


Originally submitted as Pulsatilla wallichiana IT IS NOT - the two images most definitely are not of a Pulsatilla (the only species of this genus found in this region is P.wallichiana) - though this plant was previously known as Anemone albana.  According to the University of Kashmir Professor who posted the images, the photos were taken in Kashmir (unfortunately, no location nor altitude was provided - a serious omission).  For some reason he did not check the known distribution of P.wallichiana, before claiming the FALSE identification, which unfortunately, others confirmed which is a common error amongst Indian botanists!  It has never been found in the Kashmir Valley, being restricted to Ladakh @ 3000-3900m (I am familiar with it from the Suru Valley); it also occurs in Northern Pakistan; it is not a 'rare' species as falsely stated here, another common error amongst Indian botanists - how do they know?   The images appear to be of an Anemone (at least it belongs to the same family) but the two species are not similar and should not be mistaken - the foliage of P.wallichiana is completely different!  According to Stewart, Anemone biflora DC. is recorded from 1200-1800m (presumably the photos were taken at an elevation within these limits).  Nowadays, it is thought that this Anemone comes within A.tschernjaewii, with A.biflora a separate species.


(TO LEFT): 2 images of Pulsatilla  wallichiana (Photos: A.Neugebaeur, Suru Valley, Ladakh) - leaves divided nearly to the midrib into many  lobes arranged like lobes of pinnate leaf, lobes again divided in a similar way, also softly hairy; involucral leaves united at base, very different to those of A.tschernjaewii)

(TO RIGHT): 2 images of Anemone tschernjaewii [previously A.biflora] (Photo: B. Coventry, Kashmir and image posted on efloraofIndia - note the completely different foliage (leaves long-stalked, cut almost down to the base into 3 lobes) and involucre with leaves lobed to middle ) 





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This is given as Anemone rupicola - IT IS NOT; I do not know of any variant of this species with yellow flowers; the foliage does not fit either.

I consider this is a form of Anemone obtusifolia - a variable taxon which Indian botanists do not understand.  They are confused by quite a number of Anemones.  As for A.obtusiloba, the altitude this was found at fits.  I have seen the yellow form at higher elevations in Kashmir from 3600 to 4500m also at around 3600m on the Rohtang Pass, Himachal Pradesh.  Dr R Stewart called this variety potentilloides, commonly known as 'Sulphur Anemone', common at higher altitudes. Another consideration is habitat.  I have only ever seen A.rupicola on rocky substrates, whereas A,obtusiloba is often seen in grassy/meadow conditions.  Unfortunately, as hardly any Indian botanists can be described as 'field-botanists', so they are not familiar with plants "in the field" nor are they competent photographers nor competent collector of pressed specimens; the ones they gather are mostly scrappy and inadequate with virtually no field notes.  This results in unsatisfactory reference specimens in herbaria.  They are too reliant upon specimens a century (or more) old, collected by Europeans before Indian Independence and references equally old.  Why on earth do most Indian botanists use Hooker's 'Flora of British India' as a standard reference - this is more than a century out-of-date!  What on earth is going on?  How can Pakistan, with a fraction of the resources, complete their flora decades ahead of India?  Will it be 50 more years or 100 before a flora for India is completed - and when it is, the standard will be poor.

  




 

2 images of Anemone rupicola photographed by Chris Chadwell in Kashmir in the 1980s - note the large, showy WHITE flowers (sometimes pinkish on the outside but never yellow); the foliage of this species is variable.




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I contacted the Director General of the Botanical Survey of India more than 30 years ago, offering to collaborate on an up-to-date flora for Ladakh - I was turned down, as this was a task for 'Indian' botanists!  Well, 33 years later no sign of that flora.  Perhaps within another 33 years?  I will be long gone....  A group of Czech plant geographers with the aid of a German plant taxonomist, have produced a colour photographic guide to about a half of the wild species of Ladakh this year (2018).  I myself am completing a 'flora' in the form of digital images for Ladakh, covering genera A&B, as part 1; I am doing the same for Kashmir, Lahaul and Himachal Pradesh.  I am by far the most knowledgeable person alive on the mountain flora of the NW Himalaya, willing to share my expertise for free.  So why is NO Indian botanist interested?  Do I show them up to much, exposing idleness, cowardice and incompetence.....

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