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1927 Map of the Arboretum

2000: Expedition to Tibet

Plants collected on this Expedition

Plant ID Accession Date Received As Origin Source

Expedition Stats


Event Type
Collection Type
Germplasm, Herbarium Specimens
Arnold Arboretum Participants
Susan Kelley, David Boufford
Other Participants
Rick Ree1, Brian Perry1
Other Institution(s)
1Harvard University

The Hengduan Mountains of the Tibetan Plateau are a biodiversity “hotspot” due to the high number of endemic species in the region that are under severe threat of destruction due to human activity. David Boufford of the Harvard University Herbaria received a grant from the National Science Foundation to explore this region and catalogue its plant species.

Boufford, Susan Kelley of the Arnold Arboretum, Rick Ree and Brian Perry, both of Harvard University, comprised the American team, and were joined by one Tibetan, four Chinese, and four Japanese scientists. They set off from the Kunming Botanical Garden on July 4, heading north to Chengdu and then west to Lhasa, and finally circling back to the Bomi region for the end of their two-month trip. All told, they collected more than 6,700 herbarium specimens during this trip, covering an enormous variety of vascular plants. More than a quarter of the world’s Rhododendron species grow in the Hengduan Mountains. An interesting member of this group of 224 species is Rhododendron wardii, a tall rhododendron with pale yellow flowers. The group collected R. wardii growing among grazing yaks around Lake Tiensi, an alpine lake resting at 13,500 ft of elevation.