August E. Kehr, Silver Springs, Maryland
Volume 3 - Iconographia Cormophytorium Sinicorum
While in the People's Republic of China in June 1977 I had the good fortune of visiting the Botanical Research Institute of the National Academy of Sciences, Peking University. A special privilege was to visit the taxonomy laboratory where work was in full swing on publishing the Flora of China. Each species described in the Flora is pictured with a superb and detailed pen and ink botanical drawing, including enlargements of significant features of each species (See Sample). These are drawn from fresh specimens or from herbarium mounts.
Volume 3, published in 1974, contains descriptions of 278 species of Rhododendrons, many of which are familiar, but some totally new, at least to me. Some of the latter are R. chunienii, R. chengshienianum, R. hutchinsonianum, R. heishuiense, R. chihsinianum, R. faithae, R. kwangfuense, R. brevinerve, R. sikangense, R. chienianum, R. haofui, R. youngae, and scores of others.
In addition, there is a key to the identification of the species which takes up 47 pages for the Rhododendron species alone. But how frustrating that the entire book is in Chinese, except, of course, for the Latin names.
Although I searched in every book store in the larger cities in China, no copies of Volume 3 could be located. I did obtain Volumes 4 and 5, the latter being the latest edition. Volumes 6, 7, and 8 are still to come. Fortunately, our team was presented with a full set of Volumes 1 through 5, so a set will eventually be in either the National Agricultural Library (where there is a room devoted entirely to publications from the People's Republic of China), or in the library of the National Arboretum.
Persons visiting Japan can frequently obtain Chinese publications for sale in that country. I did not try.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a translation made of the section on Rhododendrons? Perhaps this could be a project of the ARS Research Foundation.