Sunday, 24 July 2011


Sorry for a lack of posts of late, I’ve just returned from five weeks in China and blogs such as this are blocked there!  The first half of my trip was a tour I led to Yunnan which was superb for flowers this year with many new species added.  The latter half took me up into northern Sichuan and then the amazing mountains of southern Qinghai – Stone Mountain and Anyemaqen Shan.  In between the thousands of sweet-scented Lilium regale and the stunning blue pools of Huanglong with copious deep pink Cypripedium tibeticum were vast grasslands with huge herds of yaks but these didn’t touch the wonderful spidery flowered Cremanthodium brunneopilosum or the abundant meconopsis.  It was a great trip for meconopsis with often yellow, red and blue/purple present together on various passes and on the high alpine turf of Stone Mountain the Meconopsis lancifolium were simply enormous with wide open ‘bowls’ of mauve-blue bristling with creamy anthers.  This mountain and the rest of its jagged toothed range seemed to erupt abruptly out of the surrounding green carpet.  In between here and Anyemaqen Shan were fine shows of Iris sichuanensis and tumbling masses of Clematis tangutica.

Despite the long, rough journey to reach it nothing matched Anyemaqen Shan with its long glacier snaking down from over 6000 metres and thriving among the moraines from this were so many gorgeous little alpines with the little known Desideria baoigoinensis along with the floral jewel of Saussurea wellbyi its woolly stars seemingly set with precious purple stones.  Its taller even woollier cousin Saussurea medusa was also common here the sinister columns sprouting from the coarse scree together with the sapphire blue of Corydalis melanochlora.  All around was the strangest high alpine turf speckled with androsaces and slopes with thousands of Incarvillea compacta.

Perhaps the finest spectacle though was the last when we’d crossed the rugged ‘badlands’ to visit Qinghai Lake and came across a three hectare (five acre) meadow quite literally carpeted with Primula nutans.  There were millions of them creating a sea of pink beside the lake.  Needless to say I managed to get some invaluable 'silk road' shots, here are a few;

Anyemaqen Shan


Clematis tangutica

Cremanthodium brunneopilosum

Desideria baiogoinensis

Blue pools at Huanglong

Lilium regale

Meconopsis lancifolium

Meconopsis punicea (red) & henrici
Primula nutans 'sea'

Saussurea wellbyi

Stone Mountain