Sichuan - Gansu Trip October 2015

Posted by Arlen Hill on November 02, 2015.

I had great plans of getting back into the swing of things, but on the flight home I came down with a bug and combined with being up for more than twenty four hours, these last few days have not been easy.  While organizing photos and writing notes I managed to keep falling asleep at my desk with the cat curled up in my lap.  I think the worst is over!  Other than that, and a few leach bites, my companions and I managed not to get hurt or have any heath issues during our month long trip.

Conditions can change quickly in the mountains of China.  This year some of the same roads we traveled in 2013 were torn up and we spent many uncomfortable hours driving through congested muddy and rough roads.  Due to closures  we had to improvise our itinerary, but we managed to have some great days of exploration with collections of really exceptional plants. 

Heading into the mountains we crossed over a pass that was more than 14,000 feet in elevation, already with its first dusting of snow.  The three of us definitely noticed the altitude.  As we explored the terrain for plants, with each step we stumbled through the rocky landscape and could feel our lungs working harder. 

A few young Yi men watching over a heard of CowYack hybrids in the mountains.  Even in the seemingly remote areas there are people.  Unfortunately that means that much of the herbaceous flora has been consumed by livestock and very little of the forests are left unaltered by human activity.  But if you are lucky, something interesting can be found tucked into the dense brush.

Steep cliffs Gansu region.

Venomous bamboo snake.

Araliaceae in damp deciduous woodlands

A stunning Arisaema species growing in a mixed deciduous woodland.  Nearby we spotted what looked to be Impatiens omeana.  This area proved to be a fern lovers paradise with many species not in cultivation but also a number of them that can be found in western gardens already.  It is an invaluable experience observing plants in the wild, and much like meeting a celebrity in person.

Beesia deltophylla


Berberis wilsoniae

Lonicera crassifolia hanging off a damp rock ledge.

The forests are so diverse, at times it is hard to tell how many species are in view.

Impressive Arisaema wilsonii.  Huge plants growing to over four feet tall and with many stalks per tuber.

Seeing Podophyllum in the wild called for a loud explicit exclamations. 


Paris polyphylla var. stenophylla