The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University has launched a 10-year initiative to expand and refine our collections of living plants–The Campaign for the Living Collections. This cross-institutional effort focused on plant exploration, collection, and production aims to enhance the Arboretum’s resources for research and conservation. Currently, Curator of Living Collections Michael Dosmann and colleagues from the Morris Arboretum (pictured to the right with Betula albosinensis) are exploring botanical diversity and collecting plants in the Huanglong Nature Preserve in the Sichuan Province of China. Below, read Michael’s report from the field.
Our North America-China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC) expedition to China has been a wonderful success so far. I am joined by Tony Aiello (Director of Horticulture and Curator at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania), Kang Wang (Director of Education at the Beijing Botanic Garden), and Yundong Gao (Botanical Scientist at the Chengdu Institute of Biology), and we have been exploring portions of the Huanglong Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in northern Sichuan Province. For the past several days, our team has been exploring valleys and mountains, documenting the common and unusual flora by making notes, as well as herbarium, seed, and occasional DNA collections of species of high priority to our institutions.
The weather has been rather cooperative; while we may have rain in the mornings when we head out, for the most part it lightens to a mist or burns out completely by the afternoon. Our treks have been between 4 to 6 miles, following a river through its respective valley, with typical climbs of between 1000 to 1300 feet in elevation. The other day, in Long Di Shui, we enjoyed fantastic views comprising sheer cliffs, clouds, and hints of autumn leaf color. The mesic forest was dripping with both moss and lichen, and the mucky bog-like trail was full of many terrestrial leeches! Among the memorable collections we made that day were Tsuga chinensis, the Chinese hemlock known for its resistance to hemlock wooly adelgid, and an evergreen groundcover, Skimmia melanocarpa, with its glossy dark green leaves. I cannot wait to see how these collections, once processed and put through our propagation facilities, will perform in the Arboretum landscape!
Until next time,