2000 Hengduan Mountains Expedition
The Hengduan Mountains of the Tibetan Plateau are a biodiversity “hotspot” due to the high number of endemic species in the region that are under severe threat of destruction due to human activity. David Boufford of the Harvard University Herbaria received a grant from the National Science Foundation to explore this region and catalogue its plant species.
Boufford, Susan Kelley of the Arnold Arboretum, Rick Ree and Brian Perry, both of Harvard University, comprised the American team, and were joined by one Tibetan, four Chinese, and four Japanese scientists. They set off from the Kunming Botanical Garden on July 4, heading north to Chengdu and then west to Lhasa, and finally circling back to the Bomi region for the end of their two-month trip. All told, they collected more than 6,700 herbarium specimens during this trip, covering an enormous variety of vascular plants. More than a quarter of the world’s Rhododendron species grow in the Hengduan Mountains. An interesting member of this group of 224 species is Rhododendron wardii, a tall rhododendron with pale yellow flowers. The group collected R. wardii growing among grazing yaks around Lake Tiensi, an alpine lake resting at 13,500 ft of elevation.
Akiyama, Shinobu. The Sino-Japanese-American expedition to Tibet, 2000. 2001.
Kelley, Susan. “Plant Hunting on the Rooftop of the World”. Arnoldia 61:2 2001. [pdf]