Assam Botanical Expedition 1965
P. C. Hutchison, Esq., Perthshire, Scotland
Permission has been granted by the Indian authorities for a botanical and horticultural expedition to Assam next year. The area to be visited is the mountainous region to the west of the Subansiri river in the North East Frontier Agency (N.E.F.A.) which is on the south side of the main Himalayan chain. The purposes and details of the expedition are as follows:
It is intended to collect seed and other living material of plants of horticultural interest. The genus Rhododendron, in which Mr. Cox is an expert, will be the subject of particular attention. The area should also prove to be fruitful for primulas, as to the west in Bhutan, to the north in the gorge country and to the east in Mishmi territory, the mountainous areas have been shown to be very rich in this genus. It is also hoped to find gentians, meconopsis and a variety of herbaceous alpines and shrubs.
Collections of herbarium material are being made for the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Edinburgh. The expedition is also collaborating with the Indian botanical authorities in making joint collections of dried material.
This is an area, which in spite of the travels of Kingdon-Ward, Ludlow and Sherriff and others has scarcely been tapped for horticultural purposes. Political events have made it extremely difficult to obtain permission for entry although surrounding areas have been shown by these collectors to be very rich floristically. It is hoped that not only new species may be obtained, but some which have been lost to cultivation may be reintroduced. Particular attention will also be paid to the introduction of better forms of plants already in cultivation.
It is intended to collect in areas over 11,000 ft. which should produce plants hardy enough for the Pacific northwest of America and most of the British Isles. The ground will in most cases be covered twice, first during the flowering season and for a second time in the Autumn to make the seed collections.
The members of the Expedition will be Mr. P. A. Cox, S .D. H., Mrs. Cox (Studley Diploma) and Mr. P. C. Hutchison, B.A., F.R.G.S. It will be departing in February 1965.
A limited number of shares to the amount of £50 are available in the expedition and these will benefit from a full range of what is collected. It is regretted that half shares are not available but there is of course no reason why individuals should not group together to take one share. Remittance for shares should be sent to P. C. Hutchison, Esq., Rossie, Forgandenny, Perthshire, Scotland.
To many rhododendron buffs the finding of new species in the wilds of Western China or Tibet, or Northern India has seemed the height of romance. We read the books and accounts of the plant explorers who worked fifty years ago or more, and vicariously share their enthusiasm and wonder at the marvels of scenic and floral beauty they find.
To many of us this has perhaps seemed a part of history, something that happened in the past but only in the past. It was refreshing, therefore, to hear about the new expedition planned by the Coxes and Mr. Hutchinson. This expedition is close to us not only from the standpoint of being in our time but because many of us have met Peter Cox when he visited this country with his father, Mr. E. H. M. Cox. The senior Mr. Cox has participated in earlier expeditions and has written considerably about them. We wish this new expedition all success and "good hunting."