QBARS - v2n4 Dr. Joseph F. Rock Letter

Dr. Joseph F. Rock Letter

Likiang, Yunnan, China
J. F. Rock, Research Fellow

Mr. George D. Grace.
Secretary, Rhododendron Society.
P. O. Box 8828, Portland, Oregon

Dear Mr. Grace:

I am here under the auspices of Harvard-Yenching doing an entirely different type of work. However I can't keep away from growing plants - and I have quite a garden of Primulas meconopsis and other beautiful plants. Some of my friends have sent me a few hyacinth bulbs and daffodil, and they have been planted and I expect a nice display of spring flowers.
I have had a man collect seeds on the snow range here, only a few miles from here, and as I write the snow peak is aglow from the setting sun. I thought that you would like to have fresh seed of some of the rhododendrons growing in the snow range, and so I enclose seeds of the following:

R. cuneatum
Shrub 3 ft., 4 ft., flowers blue with undergrowth in fir forest at 11,000-12,000 ft. elev.

R. chartophyllum praecox
Small tree or shrub up to 10 ft. It's more an Azalea type because it flowers before the leaves appear. It is one of the finest Rhododendron, a mass of bloom of various colors: blue, smoke-blue, white, rose-pink with deep carmine spots. all shades one finds of this species. Diels named it praecox because of its early flowering habit before the leaves appear. I don't think it is in cultivation. This seeds is mixed of various trees so most color variations are represented.

*R. adenogynum
Stout gnarled tree, often prostrate with thick, fleshy, leathery leaves, wooly beneath, flowers a delicate pink. Grows at altitudes of 12,000-15,000 ft.

*R. vernicosum
Tree 15-20 ft. with rose-tinted large flowers, a very attractive species, fragrant. Grows in Spruce forest, also in open ground elev. 11,000-12,000 ft.

R. cephalanthoides
Shrub 2 ft., with white tubular flowers, fragrant as are the leaves, on grassy slopes and under trees at 10,000-11,000 ft. elev.

R. ramosissimum
Shrub 1 ft., leaves very small, aromatic, flowers purplish-blue to deep purple, at altitudes of 15,000 ft. among rocks.

*R. rubiginosum
Tree 15-20 ft., leaves broad, red beneath, flowers purple, in Spruce forest and open slopes in scrub forest.

I hope these seeds will arrive safely. There are not so many species of rhododendron on this snow range as farther west as on the Niekang Salwin divide and Salwin Irrawadi divide but that is a long way off, about 20 days journey in this wilderness and needs a regular expedition. If your Society wishes I could easily arrange for each year to send an expedition into that region and probably could secure seeds of several hundred species and varieties at a cost of about $1000.00 or $1500.00.
The postage is a great item, postage to the U. S. for an ordinary airmail letter of 10 grams(?) is 36,000 Chinese Dollars. To circumvent this high postal rate I am sending this airmail to a friend in Hong Kong who will forward the airmail to Portland.
Please accept these few seeds with my compliments.
In a few days I will send you seeds of Rhodo. traillianum and Rhodo. prostratum . I think they are not in cultivation in the States. The first is a large tree some 25-30 feet or more with beautiful rose flowers spotted purple which grows at altitudes of 11,000 feet on open slopes. The second is a prostrate shrub covering large acres over rocks, with large salver shaped deep wine-colored flowers. It grows at an altitude of 15,000 feet and higher.
We had a heavy snowfall a couple of weeks ago on the mountains and the shrub was covered with snow and could not be found. The brilliant sunshine we are having has or is melting the snow and as soon as the snow has melted I will send a man up to get it.
The Niekang Salwin and Salwin Irrawadi divides are of course very rich in Rhodo. species and so are the mountains of Muli and Yangeing, 10 days to the north of here.
I expect to be here for another two years and this will be the last opportunity to secure seeds of these plants. I gladly will give my services, etc. for nothing.
Please let me know when the seeds have arrived, and if you care to send me a few tulip bulbs by ordinary parcel post addressed to me here at Likiang, I would appreciate it.
I have quite a number of Tricuela and Meconopsis seed. They would do well in your part of the States and if you or any of your friends would like some, will be glad to send them to you, with my compliments.
* Of those rhododendron, marked with a *, I have beautiful photographs which I will send you. If you want more seeds of the rhododendrons I am sending, please let me know. I have quite a lot more.
With kindest regards and all good wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, I remain.

Very sincerely yours.

(Signed) J. F. Rock