Did Polunin & Stainton, authors 'Flowers of the Himalaya', have permission to collect seed & botanical specimens? Probably not.

The governments, officials and botanists of India, Nepal, and Pakistan, owe Oleg Polunin and Adam Satinton a BIG debt.  'Flowers of the Himalaya' has been a standard reference work for 35 years (it is of a vastly higher standard than anything published by Indian sub-continent botanists) but how did they fund their travels in the Himalaya?  It is widely believed, by both poor and those comfortably off in India (and Nepal) that everyone from the West is a millionaire and that British 'botanists' have endless funding!  It just so happens that Stainton did have a private income, so could afford to travel, as and when he wished.  He did not have to lead botanical tours or collect seed for shareholders as  was the case for Polunin (who was a Botany Master at Charterhouse Public School) - though he did gather some seed for friends.  They both participated in early expeditions into Nepal (in 1952 & 1954), with Polunin also accompanying, as non-climbing team-member, a number of mountaineering expeditions in the Himalaya - where he was able to operate as a naturalist around base-camp and during the walk-ins (which in those days were lengthy).  Other than the official Natural History Museum/Royal Horticultural Society Expeditions organised by George (later Sir George) Taylor, they probably did not have official permission for the seed-gathering they undertook.  As for the PS&W and SS&W expeditions, the prime driving force for these were horticultural interest in the flora of Nepal; the botanical research was a bonus - and there were seed shareholders in those expeditions to help funding, as money was tight in Britain in the 1950s!  It is doubtful they had permission, at a government-level to gather the botanical pressed specimens or seed.  Was this morally wrong? NO.  The peoples of the Himalaya should be grateful along with politicians and officials - otherwise, as is the case in India, with the Botanical Survey of India and Institution botanists, COPYING and relying upon Hooker's 'Flora of British India'!  No doubt if they were alive today, BBC World Service Correspondent NAVIN SINGH KHADKA (an apologist, spin-doctor for the Nepalese Government) would no doubt have written an article about them and portrayed them as villains?  Were they - of course not.  Is Chris Chadwell? Of course not. It is the BBC which needs to be investigated.  WHY do WE (and it is US in the UK who pay a BBC Licence fee, who over-pay employees of the BBC) permit such misconduct? It is OUR BBC.  Navin Singh Khadka and Ms Unsworth should be dismissed.....


Allium semenovii photographed by Oleg Polunin (scanned in from a slide) during a botanical trek from Kashmir to Ladakh in 1983
(perhaps the last he ever led) - see below for further details

Without their travels, which brought a familiarity with the region's flora, their skills as photographers, along with the extensive collection of botanical specimens in the Natural History Museums herbarium in London, 'Flowers of the Himalaya', which has been a standard reference work for decades, would not have been possible.  And the main-stay of the museums botanical specimens are those two expeditions in the 1950s - the expeditions having primarily been mounted due to British interest in unknown, horticulturally-promising species of Primula, Meconopsis, Rhododendron plus other plants of ornamental merit which specialist gardeners wished to have access to!

Details of a botanical tour Oleg Polunin led to Kashmir & Ladakh in 1983 - Chris Chadwell subsequently identified the set of plant slides Oleg took



Further details to follow.
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