A visit to Northern Sichuan (with photos)

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Abgeschickt von Rüdiger Kohlmüller am 18 Dezember, 2004 um 07:19:31

I shortly want to introduce the nature reserve of Wanglang in Northern Sichuan which I visited together with some friends and try to give some brief impressions. This reserve is not on the common tour which includes the parks of Wolong, Huanglong and Jiuzhaigou, but this small nature reserve was a "pearl" for Cypripedium enthusisats. The primary target of the reserve is the protection of the nearly 30 great panda bears (according to the local ranger a special local variant of the great panda) living there. You can reach it from Chengdhu in one and a half days or from the Jiuzhaigou park in nearly 7 hours.


From the main route you have nearly a 2 hour drive on a gravel road which leads through several Tibetean villages to reach the borders of the park. In this year it was very hard to reach with the bus, because there is a new great water reservoir under construction in the valley leading to the park and so the road conditions were very bad. When we came to the entrance there was only a barrier and some decayed builings, but suprisingly there was a new guest house at the park headquarter in the park center. The park is not so crowded with tourists like the other parks, so we and an American scientist were the only actual guests in the park. In the evening the local ranger gave us a talk and a slide show about the nature reserve presenting fascinating pictures of the wildlife (showing pictures e.g. of the great panda bear, serveral orchids etc). In the discussion afterwards the head of the rangerstation offered us to show us a place from where they know ladyslippers.

In the lower part of the park (let´s say about 2000-2500m) you find deep shaded woodland along a stream with many bushes and also bamboo with a high humidity (any many peonies growing there). Not far away from the Ranger station we found some Cyp. franchetii. Following one of the few tracks in the park we came to the higher regions (above 3000m) of the park. Here we had a short hike till we reached a slope with boulder and some grassy places.


Around this area we found lots Cypripedium tibeticum, Cyp. flavum, Cyp. calcicolum (aka smithii) and a large population of C. bardolphianum. The size of the C. bardolphianum population here is comparable (or even larger!, hard to say because the area is very large) to the well known population of the Huanglong reserve which I could see 4 days afterwards. From my impression the plants in this reserve were a bit darker in their coloration than the plants in the Huanglong park.


Also the population of Cyp. calcicolum was also quite large; we spotted about 20(or more) plants at this location.


In Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong and the Danyun gorge we only found single plants up to maybe 5 plants on one place. They were growing close together with C. tibeticum (only few meters apart) but could be seperated very well due to their darker coloration and the different proportions of the lip and the sepals. One remarkable thing to mention with Cyp. tibeticum in this region was the fact that many plants were lacking the white (or bright) margin around the opening of the shoe.


Beside the ladyslippers many other orchids (Oreorchis, Amitostigma, Ponerorchies, Androcorys, Coeloglossum, Cephalanthera, Platanthera, Herminium) and fascinating plants from other groups (Primula, Arisaema, Pedicularis) could be found in the park area. Unfortunately we could only spend half a day in this park and so we only had a quick insight. I am sure that there is much more to discover here, even maybe one more Cypripedium species.

Rüdiger Kohlmüller


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