1994 North America-China Plant Exploration Consortium


1994 North America-China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC), Hubei

Guanshan, China

Guanshan, China, and a rice filed beyond, is seen from the slopes of Wudang Shan. A China fir, Cunninghamia lanceolata, stands to the right. Photograph by Peter Del Tredici. Originally published in Arnoldia 55:1, 1995. Copyright © 1995, President and Fellows of Harvard College; all rights reserved.

From September 4th to October 11th botanists and horticulturists from member institutions of the North America-China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC) collected on Wudang Mountain, a biologically rich and well preserved region in Northern Hubei province. Paul Meyer, director of the Morris Arboretum, organized the expedition. He was joined by Kevin Conrad from the U.S. National Arboretum, Peter Del Tredici from the Arnold Arboretum, and Bill Thomas from Longwood Gardens. The Nanjing Botanical Garden was represented by Mao Cailiang and Hao Riming. The incredible amount floristic diversity observed on this expedition led the team to describe one fortuitous day (see Arnoldia, 55:1 in Additional Resources) as “Horticultural Heaven” because the team observed several ornamental and conservation status plants including: Acer griseum, A. mono, A. davidii, A. henryi, Cornus kousa, Stewartia sinensis, and Zelkova sinica.

The well-preserved botanical diversity of this region is party attributed to the high altitude and steep slopes unsuitable for agriculture, as well as the presence of Taoist temples where forests are often found intact. Despite the challenges in finding viable seed (likely because of the previous summer’s drought), the trip yielded 185 collections of seeds and live plants, including beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) and paperbark maple (Acer griseum), which had not been successfully collected since 1901 and 1907, respectively, by E. H. Wilson.

Two expectantly long-lived specimens to view from this trip within the living collections at the Arnold Arboretum are Stewartia sinensis (691-94*A) in Explorers Garden and Acer griseum (767-94*A) on the perimeter of the Leventritt Shrub and Vine Garden.

Additional Resources Del Tredici, P., Meyer P., Riming, H., Cailang, M., Conrad, K., and Thomas R.W. 1995. Plant Collecting on Wudang Shan. Arnoldia 55:1. [pdf].

Aiello, Anthony S. and Dosmann, Michael S. 2010. By the Numbers: Twenty Years of NACPEC Collections. Arnoldia 68:2. [pdf].

Dosmann, M. S. 2010. Beautybush, Kolkwitzia amabilisArnoldia 68:2. [pdf]

Meyer, Paul W. 2010. Paperbark maple, Acer griseum. Arnoldia 68:2. [pdf].

Del Tredici, Peter. 2010. Chinese stewartia, Stewartia sinensis. Arnoldia 68:2. [pdf].

Anagnostakis, Sandra L. 2010. Chinese chinquapin, Castanea henryi. Arnoldia 68:2. [pdf].