Who are these photographic guides dedicated to?

The initial four guides cover the following districts and are dedicated to these persons both Indian and American (interesting considering the British involvement in the Indian sub-continent, with Hooker and his collaborators authoring 'Flora of British India' (a 19th century publication) - these 21st century guides acknowledge the contribution of 20th century plant explorers and others, without whom these floras would not have been written. Chris, very much a friend of the Indian sub-continent, is doing his bit to embrace Nehru's edict (see Kashmir entry below), with a view to encouraging future generations of Indian botanists to become active field-botanists like P.N.Kohli :

1. Ladakh (known as 'Little Tibet): Dr Ralph Randles Stewart & Leos Klimes - Stewart was Principal of Gordon College, Rawalpindi & author of 'An Annotated Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Pakistan & Kashmir; his doctorate was awarded for his studies on the 'Flora of Ladakh' more than a century ago; Klimes was a Czech plant ecologist who undertook the most extensive field & high quality plant exploration of Ladakh that has ever taken place, culminating the excellent: http://www.butbn.cas.cz/ladakh/pdf/Klimes_Dickore.pdf  and jointly with W.B. Dickore, a preliminary check-list of Ladakh's flora in 2005: http://www.butbn.cas.cz/klimes/desert.html. Regrettably, Klimes went missing in Ladakh (or possibly Kashmir) in 2007 - what a pity the opportunity to collaborate with him never arose.  Chris met Stewart In California in 1983, who gave him his last, final, personally annotated copy of 'An Annotated Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Pakistan & Kashmir (which formed the basis of 'Flora of Pakistam').  Chris does not currently have permission to reproduce any images of Klimes - if anyone reading this has the necessary contacts to sensitively contact his family, to obtain such a photo, kindly contact Chris Chadwell by e-mail.

Dr RR Stewart

2. Kashmir: Shri Prem Nath Kohli, Mrs Urvashi Suri (one of his daughters) & Jawaharlal Nehru - Kohli, former Forestry Ranger turned horticulturist, photo-journalist & conservationist (he was raising concerns about the flora of Kashmir and the Himalaya as a whole, almost a century ago and decades before it became 'fashionable' to do so; he established P.Kohli & Co. in 1928; Mrs Suri, M.Sc. Botany (University of Kashmir) took over as proprietor of the firm. He had the best herbarium (and collection of plant photos) in Kashmir leading up to India's Independence but this was lost through fired when his home was destroyed during a raid from what was to become Pakistan, during terrible events around Partition. Chris was able to meet Kohli in 1983 & again in 1985, just months before he passed away - although blind by then, Kohli's mind remained sharp, being able to discuss the finer points of plant identification.  Mrs Suri's hospitality at her home in Kashmir and the refuge it provided during Chris' expedition in Kashmir and Ladakh was instrumental in him continuing his travels along the Himalaya, familiarising himself with the region's flora, such that he is now in a position to compile his digital guides to flora of four parts of the NW Himalaya. It is fitting to include Pandit Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, due to his roots with the Kashmiri Pandit community.

Shri P.N.Kohli and Mrs Urvashi Suri presenting a Kohli Memorial Gold Medal at the University of Kashmir


Nehru's fine sentiments on a statue in Manali, Himachal Pradesh - the world would be a better place if we all,
as individuals and governments adopted such an approach

3. Lahaul & Spiti (borderlands of Western Tibet): Dr Walter Koelz and Thakur Rup Chand - Koelz a zoologist, undertook extensive botanical collections in Lahaul, Ladakh and the Kulu valley in the 1930s on behalf of the Urusvati Institute, Naggar (operated by by Russian Nicholas Roerich) & the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - the pressed specimens (with good accompanying field notes, so often missing from specimen in Indian herbaria) they gathered are the best set which exist for the districts mentioned above, anywhere in the world; they were subsequently named by Stewart, who worked as a Research Associate for the University of Michigan - what an excusable waste that duplicates (well the first set in fact) have been languishing, unused for more than 80 years at the Urusvati Institute - Aswal, the main author of 'Flora of Lahaul-Spiti', did not consult them; Chand, from the local ruling family, was instrumental in ensuring the extent and quality of the Koelz & Chand collections and knowledge Koelz gained. Chris met Koelz in Michigan in 1986.

Dr Walter Koelz & Thakur Rup Chand

4. Himachal Pradesh (covering Kulu Valley plus Shimla and Sirmour districts): Shri Krishan Lal - an amateur plant enthusiast, who explored more widely in Sirmaur and other districts of Himachal Pradesh than anyone ever has, taking large numbers of quality digital images, which grace these guides; India needs more of such 'amateur' botanists. A retired government employee in the Public Works Department, posted at Haripurdhar, a village near to the highest hill (named Chordhar @ 2500m) but retired at Nahan.  He was an Arts graduate in 1976 but since 1989 his prime interest had been finding and identifying wild flowers.  He consulted pressed specimens in the herbarium, Dehra Dun and had the help of Dr G.S.Rawat in determining specimens he could not name.  In the UK we have a long history of amateur botanists/hobbyists, who devote their spare time to studying British flora, to a professional standard, contributing to regional floras of an impressive standard, following 20, 30, 40 and sometimes 50 years of dedicated study, through the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland.  It is long overdue that India follows the British example. Chris had planned to visit Krishan in 2014 and present him, in person, with a Kohli Memorial Gold Medal, but ill-health (and a shortage of funds) forced him to cancel the trip. It was Krishan who first approached Chris with the idea of publishing a 'Wild Flowers of the Western Himalaya' popular guide.  Whilst that was not feasible or economic, the digital guides Chris is currently preparing have followed.  A posthumous award of this gold medal was made in 2018 (see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/kohli-memorial-gold-medals; scroll down to 2018).

Krishan Lal


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