Wild Flowers of NW Himalaya Digital Guides (floras) to Ladakh, Kashmir, Lahaul & Spiti, Himachal Pradesh

Chris Chadwell has begun a series of digital guides to the flora of the North-West Himalaya.

The initial four cover:

1. Ladakh (known as 'Little Tibet);
2. Kashmir;
3. Lahaul & Spiti (borderlands of Western Tibet);
4. Himachal Pradesh (covering Kulu Valley plus Shimla and Sirmour districts)

There is potential for others, such as Kinnaur & Baltistan. 

They will be available on CDs, in parts, for further details, see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/wild-flowers-of-nw-himalaya-digital-guides.

Order in which the parts of the guides will be published.

These four digital guides to Wild Flowers of Ladakh, Kashmir, Lahaul & Spiti, Himachal Pradesh will be completed in parts in alphabetical order by genus and species (covering all species recorded, qualifying them as floras of sorts - certainly a major progression on Stewart's 'Flora of Ladakh' published a century ago; back in 1983 Chris Chadwell flew out to California to meet Dr Stewart, to speak about his plans to publish an up-to-date flora for Ladakh, which 35 years later is coming to fruition but he is not just producing one flora but four - no mean achievement for a freelance botanist, not attached to any institution, without financial support). The first, essential step in properly studying and conserving the plants of any region of the world is to enable the correct identification of species, along with their distributions and abundance or rarity.  Instead of trustworthy assessments, false claims of species being 'endangered' or 'critically endangered' in the NW Himalaya have been made for decades by Indian botanists, then submitted to international bodies such as the IUCN and CITES - it is time this stopped with serious and extensive field surveys  undertaken by skilled and dedicated field-botanists, who enjoy plant explorations in the mountains, like Chris has - even under arduous conditions.  You cannot discover, truthfully, which species are rare, sat in an office or a herbarium consisting mainly of 19th or early twentieth century pressed specimens!  Chris Chadwell, despite personal attacks and in dire financial circumstances, has not given up, setting an example for others to follow. Fingers crossed, the copyright of the photos in these guides will not be abused, as has happened with images being 'stolen' from his web-sites.... He continues to care deeply about the plants, environment and peoples of the Himalaya. Why not help him by purchasing the CDs shown below and submitting digital images of plants taken in the NW Himalaya, to enrich what material he currently has for reference purposes or be inspired to prepare treks into the wilds to photograph species that Chris has no images of at all or improve upon the images of species he already has?

Part I - Genera A & B including: Acer, Aconitum, Allium, Anaphalis, Androsace, Aquilegia, Arenaria, Arisaema, Aster, Astragalus, Berberis, Bergenia, Bistorta.

Title pages of the four guides to the wild flowers of the Northwest Himalaya

Part 3 - Genera E, F, G, H, I, J including: Epilobium, Erigeron, Euphorbia, Fraxinus, Gaultheria, Gentiana, Geranium, Hedysarum, Impatiens, Iris, Jasminum.

Part 4 - Genera K, L, M, N, O including: Leontopodium, Ligularia, Lilium, Lindelofia, Meconopsis, Morina, Myricaria, Nepeta,Orobanche,  Oxygraphis, Oxytropis.

Part 5 - Genera P, Q, R including: Pedicularis, Phlomis, Pleurospermum, Potentilla, Primula, Prunus, Pseudomertensia, Ranunculus, Rheum, Rhodiola, Rosa.

Part 6 - S, T, U, V, W, Y, Z including: Saussurea, Saxifraga, Senecio, Silene, Sorbus, Swertia, Thalictrum, Valeriana, Veronica, Viburnum, Viola, Waldheimia.

Part 7 - Orchidaceae of the NW Himalaya including: Calanthe, Cypripedium, Dactylorhiza, Habernaria, Herminium, Satyrium, Spiranthes (I may be able to enlist a collaborator/co-author, in which case I would include lower-elevation, epiphytic orchids), otherwise, given the modest number of genera & species found at medium to higher elevations in the NW Himalaya, it would be more appropriate to include Orchidaceae within Part 4 e.g. there are only 5 orchids recorded from Ladakh. 

As to a time-table, ambitious targets are set:  summer to autumn 2018 for completion of Part 1; autumn to winter for Part 2; winter to spring 2019 for
Part 3; spring to summer 2019 for Part 4; summer to autumn 2019 for Part 5; autumn to winter 2019 for Part 6.  2020 for Part 7 and completion of
any outstanding parts.  Chris is also working on digital guides to individual genera of the NW Himalaya, which go into even more detail for each known species.  He has completed a substantial part of Primulas and then will move on to Arisaema, Androsace, Saxifraga, Clematis, Iris and perhaps some others. Much will depend on the level of interest shown, and response to his guides for Ladakh, Kashmir, Lahaul & Spiti and Himachal Pradesh.  He is a one-man show, with major health issues (although only 60 as of June 2018) - Stewart lived to 102 but he cannot expect to get anywhere near that but remembers Stewart, after retiring from Pakistan, took up a new post at Ann Arbor, Michigan, aged 70!

IF things go well and Chris is comfortable with the results, then there are other regions of the Himalaya he is in a position to prepare guides to. There remains a considerable need, to make up for decades of neglect since partition of India and this would mean he continues to put to good use, his hard-won expertise. It really is time to take advantage of what the wonders of digital photography have to offer (using modest digital cameras) in terms of improving plant identification - which both professional and amateurs are able to contribute.

At present he is intending to exclude Poaceae (Gramineae), Cyperaceae, Juncaceae and perhaps a few other similar families, as currently hardly any photos of these families are available, due to being particularly poorly studied; he himself has, not had the time to focus on them properly.  IF this situation changes, which would require major inputs by others including specialist taxonomists, Chris might consider a Part 8 to cover these neglected families of plants, though would still be worth compiling basic checklists of them, as best as he can.  Much the same applies to the ferns of the NW Himalaya.

Contributing photographers - more required to improve content

The majority of photos in these guides were taken by Krishan Lal or Chris Chadwell and are their copyright, as is the case for all the contributors below:

In all other cases, the photographer is acknowledged and credited; do contact me at the earliest opportunity, if any mistakes have been made.  The images appear on this site with their kind permission - and are THEIR copyright.  Should you wish to use any of the photos on this site, for whatever purpose, you MUST contact Chris Chadwell, to secure permission from himself or the other photographers (in which case he will forward your request to them).

Other photographers (in alphabetical order):

Ashwini Bhatia (India) - further details to follow.

Joseph Chadwell (UK) - youngest son of Chris Chadwell, currently studying Human Sciences at University College, London.

Matthew Chadwell (Japan) - eldest son of Chadwell, a Physics graduate currently teaching English and Physics in Japan.

Feroze Khan & Mudita Badwhar (India) - further details to follow

The Late Krishan Lal (India) - first contacted Chris Chadwell in 2014 proposing they jointly publish a popular guide to the Flowers of the Western Himalaya, sending him a selection of high quality images taken in Himachal Pradesh.  It was not economic to produce a printed volume and given how poorly most people use 'Flowers of the Himalaya', Chris was reluctant anyhow, so proposed a digital guide but this would need to be split into regions/districts.  Sadly, Krishan  passed away before Chris was well enough to begin the project. Although it was only photos which Krishan contributed, all the rest has been completed by Chris Chadwell, it is appropriate, given how many he contributed, to honour him, albeit posthumously, as co-author.

Marie Meister (France) - a biologist who spent many years as a Drosophila geneticist, then shifted closer to natural history working in the Zoology Museum of Strasbourg, France.

His main research interest is the study of distribution patterns of vascular plants and bryophytes in Pyrenean peatlands. He has also participated in several floristic projects in the Pyrenees and in numerous campaigns of herborization in the western Mediterranean, but also Tian Shan, Himalaya, Caucasus and Tierra del Fuego. In addition, he works on vegetation mapping in NE Spain.

Dr D.S.Rawat (India) http://www.gbpuat-cbsh.ac.in/departments/bs/faculty_details.php?name=dsrawat

Further details to follow

Dr Peter Storm (Germany)  http://www.bio.tu-darmstadt.de/ag/professuren/ag_schwabe/Storm.en.jsp

His main fields of research are biotic and abiotic processes in terrestrial ecosystems, scientific fundamentals of nature conservation and techniques of ecological restoration.  He studies biodiversity, plant community composition and structure, population and vegetation dynamics and successional processes, on micro-scale (including succession of Cyanobacteria in biological soil crusts) and macro-scale (including vascular plant species and wild bee-plant interactions). The results of these studies help to clarify the causes of ruderalisation processes which threaten the nature conservation value of many ecosystem types throughout Europe.

Dr Lesley Turner (UK) -  further details to follow

Tom Turner (UK) - landscape architect and garden historian, working as a volunteer to help make a Dragon Garden for the Druk Padma Karpo School in Shey, Ladakh, India.

Marijn van den Brink (The Netherlands) - further details to follow

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