The Kingdon Ward Expedition in Assam
The following letter was received by John Henny who heads the group of Society members who have aided Mr. Ward on his expedition into Assam.
You may have seen from the newspapers that on the 15th of August last, Upper Assam, right up to the Tibetan Frontier and beyond, was rocked by a terrific earthquake, with its epicentre at or very near Rima. As we spent that memorable night in camp at Rima itself, we got the full force of it. This, unfortunately, coming just as we were about to start collecting seeds in the Alpine regions above Rima, completely ruined the harvest - in fact, for several weeks it was impossible to get out of Rima, nor was it possible at any time to return to the alps.
This, I regret to say, put alpines such as primulas, gentians, nomocharis, meconopsis, and even dwarf rhododendrons, out of court. I have, however, seed of a good dwarf barberry and of another not so dwarf, cotoneasters, a few shrub (not "dwarf") rhododendrons, besides larger bush and tree rhododendrons, a magnificent new cornus with yellow precocious flowers, roses and various other plants of horticultural distinction-about forty species in all, but not all of them likely to be hardy in Oregon. Some of them may be more suited to California.
In view of the fact that we were unable to collect seed of any alpines (I may say that before the 15th of August we had collected many beautiful flowers- primulas, etc.- proving that they occur there in quantity) your other members who came in especially for alpines will perhaps wish to back out. I much regret that we have disappointed their hopes, but though I allowed for plenty of difficulties, a really big earthquake was beyond our limit. As regards rhododendrons, which I understand is all that you are greatly interested in, we collected fifteen types.
I am also hoping to get seed of R. formosum, R. elliottii, R. macabeanum and one or two others. We collected seed of several other ericaceae Vaccinium glaucoalbum, Gaultheria wardii and of a number of handsome winter-berrying shrubs, including two cotoneasters, two berberis, two roses, pyracantha, viburnums, etc.
Please let me know your reaction as soon as possible, so that if you are not interested I can dispose of the seeds elsewhere. If you do wish to have them I will dispatch them by air as soon as I hear from you.
November 28, 1950
F. KINGDON WARD
Cinnamara, P. O. Assam