Edit: Bao Huang
Format: A Cong’er
Cartography: You Zi
The behind-the-scenes heroes of Xuesong Village in Lijiang
In the spring of 1906, Forest traveled from Tengchong to Lijiang. This is probably the third time in two years to Lijiang. Here, Forest’s collecting career has changed quite a bit. In Xuesong Village in Lijiang, he successively hired more than 20 Naxi people. They followed him all his life and helped him organize his specimens until his death in 1932.
Xuesong Village, under the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, is a village full of legends. Today, there is still an exhibition hall of Locke’s former residence, and this village is known to the public because Locke has lived here for more than 20 years.
▲This is Xuesong Village under the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Nowadays, tourists are used to calling it Yuhu Village. The whole village is built with stones. The former residence of Locke, an American plant hunter, is still there today.
Locke has a great review here:
“Wuluken (the transliteration of the Naxi name of Xuesong Village)—a rather charming little village at the foothills of the pristine Daxue Mountains in Lijiang…the center of the National Geographic Society’s Yunnan Expedition is based here. I’m here During the two years in the village, I treated the villagers for some minor diseases, or helped them get rid of their imaginative mental uneasiness, etc., and won their trust in the communication with the villagers.”
▲ Locke’s residence in Xuesong Village is still there today.
Locke lived there for many years after writing this text, until 1950. The relationship between Locke and Xuesong Village is naturally very close, but what many people don’t know is that before Locke, Forest also put the plant collection base here. After Locke came to Lijiang in 1922, the assistants hired here were also related to Forest.
▲Eric Mugler’s monograph “Paper Road”.
American scholar Erik Mueggler concluded in the introduction to his recent monograph “Paper Road: The Practice and Experience of Western Botanists in Southwest China in the Early 19th Century”:
“From 1906 to 1950, two generations of Xuesong villagers searched for alpine plants in western China for western botanical gardens and scientific institutions. The first generation of explorers consisted of 25-30 people. They were strong, dexterous, well-informed, and adventurous. Under the leadership of Zhao Chengzhang, he was employed by Fu Lishi (that is, Forrest). During Fu Lishi’s seven expeditions to Yunnan, they searched for alpine plants in the thousands of ravines in northwestern Yunnan. The 12 members of the second generation were the first The son or nephew of the inspector.”
The employer of the “second generation” investigators was Locke, and they were obviously influenced by the “first generation”, which shows the indirect influence of Forest.
▲Plant hunters and assistants, don’t underestimate these poor-sleeved countrymen. As an important town on the Ancient Tea-Horse Road, Baisha Township where it is located has a profound cultural background, so many villagers have learned the culture by ear.
In the view of Mugler, who is a cutting-edge thinker, Xuesong Village provided not just ordinary employees, but accomplished botanists, and even to some extent, Forest’s teacher. This new book written by Mugler has a lot of content about this past in Lijiang.
It is not a very fair thing for Western plant hunters to incorporate Chinese plants into their taxonomy and academic discourse. And plant hunters, just change the native names of these plants to Latin names, and they can become famous for it.
Mugler noticed that this group of unknown people whose names were deliberately erased by Western botany gave voice to the history of aphasia, and even made us re-examine the participation of Yunnan in Western botany. As the saying goes, “Without Chinese rhododendrons, there would be no Western gardens”, and Rhododendrons are Forest’s greatest contribution in his life. Therefore, those silent Naxi people behind Forest have already changed the history of Western gardens.
▲A professional plant hunter must not only be an explorer, geographer, botanist, and traveler, but also know a lot of professional skills such as painting and carpentry! Of course, it would be great if you can find professional assistants locally.
Some people may have misunderstood that what the plant collection assistants do is the hard work of pulling a hoe to dig the ground. Actually, it’s much more complicated than that. “Old Zhao” (Zhao Chengzhang), who joined Forrester’s team in 1906, was the focus of Mugler’s attention. He is literate and can draw maps. He has been collecting with Forrester in Northwest Yunnan for a long time, and also helped him deal with various plant specimens when Forester was not in Yunnan. The following paragraph is Mugler’s description of his job:
Zhao Chengzhang unfolded a piece of paper. This enterprise cannot do without paper. Every time he went out of the city, one of his mules was always loaded with paper, the raw material of which was arrow bamboo growing in clusters on the mountainside. When he returns to town after weeks or months of arduous travel, the mules behind him are laden with neat slatted paper packages, each with a herbarium plant: meconopsis, madder, primrose , Gentian, Potentilla, Rhododendron. He stacked the wrapped plants in the yard and pressed stones on top. In the next few days, he opened the papyrus one by one, adjusted the margins and proportions of the specimens as much as possible according to his feeling, and then refolded them into the smooth letter paper. This kind of paper does not belong to the local market: they have to be transported from Yangon to Bhamo on the China-Myanmar border by train, cargo ship and bullock cart, and then transported by mule team to this small border trade city——Tengyue (now Tengchong) through a long side road .
▲ Zhao Chengzhang, Forrester’s most important assistant, seems to be more refined than other porters and other assistants.
He pasted a paper label with the serial number and the English name of the owner, Mr. Fu, on each specimen. These paper slips were sent from Edinburgh, where Master Fu’s own employer lived. He packed all the specimens by every hundred plants, tied them with local straw sandal straps, and wrapped them in yellow British oil paper imported from Yangon. He put these parcels in specially made wooden boxes, and he had a good carpenter on his staff. He would send these crates to Bhamo, two crates per mule.
There are many other kinds of paper. Before packing the specimens, he had to discuss each plant with Lao Fu. Lao Fu took notes and used up the bundles of letter paper brought from Yangon. In the early years, he deliberately dragged his notebook from Edinburgh; when he was there, the old man liked to take notes while walking, but now he mainly stays in Tengyue waiting for someone to bring these plants over.
▲A group photo of a group of assistants after packing the specimens.
Mugler broke the cliché and looked at Forest’s “assistants” in Xuesong Village from a new perspective. He even compared the maps drawn by Zhao Chengzhang and Forrester: “Put Zhao Chengzhang’s map together with a smaller map, which is the two river valleys drawn by Fu Lishi. This map is cramped and hesitant. It does not have the precise and smooth drawing of Zhao Chengzhang…it is not like Zhao Chengzhang’s map that has a certain grasp of the whole area.”
▲Zhao Chengzhang’s hand-painted map of Mingguang Canyon (1925).
This map was drawn by Zhao Chengzhang and Forrester when they visited Mingguang Canyon in Tengchong in 1925. For Lao Zhao, Tengchong is also a strange place. Therefore, if he still has local advantages in Lijiang, here he must become a better plant collector. And he apparently did.
In 1980, Feng Guomei, a botanist in Yunnan, and his assistants started a historical search to find the place where the Rhododendron tree was cut down by Forester. In the vast forest of Gaoligong Mountain, it is impossible to find the habitat of the big tree Rhododendron only by the multiple translations of the place name “Hetou”. Therefore, Feng Guomei, who had worked in Lijiang, suddenly thought of Xuesong Village, and remembered that there was a person called “Old Zhao”. So, they found Xuesong Village again, so Xuesong Village participated in the history of the discovery of the big tree Rhododendron in the contemporary sense.
Xuesong Village is not only ignored by the botanical circles in the West, but also ignored by the botanical circles in China. Now almost 40 years have passed, and there may be no news from the new plant researchers in Xuesong Village.
Tengchong Datang Village and the Rediscovery of Alpine Rhododendron
“Towards the end of next week I am sending off to Cook, Rangoon, to be forwarded to you a case containing a large cross-section of a tree of Rhododendron giganteum which I secured during my journey.”
▲In Forrester’s letter to his British boss, he mentioned that a large cross-section of a huge rhododendron tree would be sent to him. The writing is easy, but this guy must have been filled with uncontrollable ecstasy at the time.
In 1919, Forest made a major discovery in the Jietou Xiaojiang River Basin in Tengchong. He is good at finding rhododendrons, and he found a unique type here. This is a rhododendron growing into an arbor. The tallest one is 25 meters, which is equivalent to the height of an 8-story building. In 1926, this species was officially announced to the academic circle by Forrester and another British collaborator. They are today’s famous big tree rhododendrons.
Forest is not only the “discoverer” of the big tree Rhododendron, but also the possible first destroyer. This 280-year-old Rhododendron tree with a DBH of 2.6 meters was cut down after meeting Forester, and he took a section of it away.
60 years later, there are still villagers in Jietou Township, Tengchong. They vaguely remember the scene at that time: There was a foreigner with more than 30 people. They pitched a tent in the primitive forest and hired a local to “carry a wooden disc and send it to the county. “.
▲Forrest led a group of assistants to cut down the big rhododendron tree. However, judging from the ratio of man to tree, this one is obviously not the King Rhododendron with a diameter of 2.4 meters.
In February 1981, Feng Guomei from Kunming Institute of Botany and his assistants went to Jietou in order to look for the Rhododendron grandis.
Jietou Township is located in the Xiaojiang River Basin. Jietou Xiaojiang flows from north to south, and its origin is on the west slope of Gaoligong Mountain. In 1980, Feng Guomei began to search for the big tree Rhododendron. The first clue was a place name related to the river – “Hetou”, and a vague saying related to it: Forest found the big tree at “Hetou”. Rhododendron.
However, Hetou is not an exact place, and there is no such place name on the map, so no matter whether it is looking through the literature or searching on the spot, there is no result in the end.
▲This is a section of the Rhododendron trunk, but the handwriting is unclear, and the date is a bit inaccurate. Maybe it was another harvest during the period in Northwest Yunnan? But at least the inscription is clearly shorthand for George Forrester.
Why look for Rhododendrons? There is probably a bit of nationalism in it. The British stole the rhododendron tree, and this slice was regarded by botanists as “the king of rhododendrons”. China is the place of origin, but there is no trace of the big tree Rhododendron, which cannot be justified.
After hitting a wall for the first time in 1980, the seeker thought of Lijiang Forest’s assistants, hoping they could still remember the place. When Feng Guomei found the home of “Old Zhao” in Lijiang, the old man had passed away not long ago. But his wife provided a clue: He Wenming of Xuesong Village was still alive, so they found Xuesong Village again. He Wenming, who is in his 80s, was a member of Forrester’s team back then, and he remembers the situation at that time.
The tree was very thick, and it took a lot of effort to cut it down. “He looked at the saw and scared Yuanpan, and it was so precious. The disk was covered with ointment, tied up obediently, and named a man surnamed Zhang. Some people specially recited it.”
After leaving the forest, they walked for eight days before reaching Tengchong County.
▲After cutting down the big Rhododendron tree on Gaoligong Mountain and getting the slices, it took 8 days to walk down the mountain from the forest before reaching Tengchong County. It can be seen that it is not easy to become famous in the plant hunter business.
When he went there, he remembered that he passed a place called Yong’an and rested there for one night. After another two days of walking, we arrived at Datang. There is a river, along the river, there is a Lisu village called Dahetou, and you can only go into the mountain if you go further.
And Civilization provides an accurate interpretation of the “head of the river”. Following his clues, in 1981, Feng Guomei found Datang and “Dahetou” based on He Wenming’s clues.
Datang is now the name of a village committee and belongs to Jietou Township. Baidu Encyclopedia has an entry for Datang Village:
Datang Village Committee is affiliated to Jietou Township. It is located in the east of Jietou Township, 28 kilometers away from the seat of the township government. The road to the seat of the township government is Danshi Road. The traffic is inconvenient. Dapotou, Xiadanlong, Hexi, Dahetou, Dongjiazhai, Shaba, Shanlonghe, Zhongzhai, Shengditou and Lijiazhai 13 villager groups.
He Wenming’s memory is very accurate. In 1981, Feng Guomei led several people to Tengchong for the third time. In the Lisu village in Dahetou, I hired a Lisu hunter as a guide. After two days of searching on the mountain, I finally saw dozens of vigorous Rhododendron trees with a height of more than 20 meters.
In the second year, 1982, the local Forestry Bureau and Forestry Society of Tengchong organized another search. They found 40 large Rhododendron trees within an area of only 0.25 square kilometers in Huocaodi and Pingcha not far from the last search. . Among them, there are 12 trees with a diameter of 1 meter. At an altitude of 2380, they also found the largest tree, which is 25 meters high and 3.07 meters in diameter at the base of the ground. It is more than 500 years old. This one is bigger than the one Forest cut down, and it is called the “king of kings” of rhododendrons.
▲Rhododendrons hidden in the mountains
It has been almost 40 years since the Rhododendron big tree was rediscovered, but to ordinary people, it is still a very cold existence. In 2011, “Tiangong No. 1” went to the sky, with the planting of Davidia involucrata, Rhododendron and other plants. Rhododendron grandis is a national second-class protected plant, and it is also the highest-level protected plant among nearly 500 species of rhododendron in China.
According to those professional articles, the big tree Rhododendron has relatively high requirements on the living environment, so, except for the west slope of Gaoligong Mountain, it does not go anywhere. That’s why botanists want to use “Tiangong-1” to see if they can change its genes so that the “princess” of Yunnan, the “plant kingdom”, can have a wide range of children.
Rhododendron big tree blooms from January to March every year. It is pink in color. The diameter of each flower cluster is about 25 cm. Its beautiful flower appearance is extraordinary. Around the Spring Festival, it is the season of flowers. I believe that many people who know the big tree Rhododendron have already prepared for the pilgrimage.
▲The location of the rhododendron group in Gaoligong Mountain: Datang Village, Jietou Township, Tengchong City, enter this address in the navigation to find it. However, after parking and entering the mountain, you have to walk for 3 hours.
Datang Village is currently the most concentrated habitat of rhododendrons, with 250 rhododendrons growing within an area of 1.5 square kilometers. There are not only big rhododendrons here, but also hot springs, which are said to be a place for some people to nourish their hearts. However, it is not easy to see the big tree Rhododendron, you have to go through the formalities first. It takes 40 kilometers to walk from the entrance of the village to the site of Dashu Rhododendron.
Old drivers, do you want to pay a visit?
Apology: Due to the lack of rigorous work of the editor, a picture in the first part of this article mistakenly took the Rhododendron in Dali Cangshan as the big tree Rhododendron, and I apologize here. In order to let everyone have a more intuitive understanding of the Rhododendron tree in Gaoligong Mountain, here is a related video.
Knowledge point No. 7: Gaoligong Mountain National Nature Reserve
Gaoligong Mountain is famous internationally as a “biological gene bank”, but do you understand it? Long press to identify the QR code of the picture below, and rise together.