IBCAS - Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
The wind is howling, but the sun is shining and the air is relatively dry, so it doesn’t really feel that cold. I gave two talks to the scientists of the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the morning on Friday – one on the future of taxonomy and the other on domestication – people always ask such good questions here, it is such a pleasure to be able to interact with the scientists in China.
Then to work in the herbarium – this is the national herbarium of China and the biggest in the country. Here I met my old friend Zhang Zhi-yun, who did the Solanaceae for the Flora of China project; she is now retired but still comes to work much of the time.
I spent the rest of Friday and all of Saturday checking specimens for the Chinese species in my current taxonomic monograph (complete treatment of all the species of a particular group) – there are three species in the group in China and they are all pretty common so there were a LOT of specimens to examine! It is a bit frustrating as I cannot read the labels, but I take photographs, enter what details I can into the database, and then will find a way to transliterate the rest of the information later. Gao and JinXiu have offered their students to help.
Because the collections here are so much more comprehensive than any I have seen from China I have been able to find new distribution records and in fact, a new species – not new to science, just new for me to China. The group I am working with are the species related to the common woody nightshade of Europe (Solanum dulcamara) and I was not sure that species got to China. But it does, into Inner Mongolia (Nei Mongol), the Uighur region and the farthest northeast province Heilongjiang – along the northernmost part of the country. The usefulness of good collections proves itself over and over again!