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greg at greg at
Thu Nov 19 03:32:29 CET 1998

hardy  Aroids)" <ARISAEMA-L at NIC.SURFNET.NL>
From: Greg Ruckert <greg at EZI-LEARN.COM.AU>
Subject: Kaichen posting.
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I have posted this in response to message that I have seen on Alpine-l an=d
have posted it here as well as I thought it appropriate.
As some on this list are aware I have just spent 6 weeks in Yunnan on
expedition with Kunming institute of Botany then two days in Beijing with
Chen Yi.  I was very disappointed to arrive home to see some of the
discussions that have taken place on this group about the above.  I had
intended to keep quiet but  some things need reply.  Chen Yi is not on th=is
group, she would not have the time!
I try to live by one rule which says don't say anything about someone tha=t
you wouldn't say face to face.  I doubt that some authors would make thei=r
comments face to face.  Other comments show a dramatic lack of knowledge =of
the facts - uninformed comments!
Our moderator has tolerated some ranting so I hope I will be allowed my b=it.
Thanks in advance.
I agree that there's more to conservation than the preservation of genes =in
the deep freeze or a plant zoo.
>"oh but it helps preserve the dears from the otherwise
> inevitable habitat destruction when I buy wild-collected
> plants" I can't help thinking that I'm reading self-serving BS.
There is one important point here.  Buy wild dug plants IF you can keep t=hem
alive and propagate them!!!!!
I have seen so many people who have bought plants without having the skil=l
to keep them going.  That is a waste.  If you can keep them alive and
thriving then you are in fact doing a very GOOD thing.  It is not
self-serving BS!  On the Gaoligong expedition in 1996 many Arisaema
specimens (the tubers were left behind, only herbarium specimens were
collected) were collected in the region between Liuku and Pianma.  A
botanist on that trip observed, in 1997, that the new road through the ar=ea
meant that those plants would no longer exist!  On the 1997 expedition I
discovered what we believe to be a new species (Arisaema giganteum).  It =was
found at two locations.  On this years trip it was found that both locati=ons
had been devastated by the road building.  The plants that I left behind =no
longer exist!!  But hang on , this is an area that is most heavily protec=ted
by Chinese laws!!
> by acquiring plants which any sensible
>person strongly suspects are wild-collected, contributing to the
>diminution of the earth's natural diversity.
If you are a good enough plantsman to grow and propagate them you are doi=ng
exactly the opposite!
>And, yes, I'm aware that tecophilaea has been preserved in
>cultivation for fifty years now.
A valuable case in point.  The rate of development in China has to be see=n
to be believed.  When we left Dali for Liuku we had to contend with a roa=d
that was substandard by Chinese standards.  A new Freeway was under
construction on the other side of the freeway, looking like it was 6 mont=hs
away from completion.  5 weeks later we returned to Dali on the new secti=on
of freeway.  The continued loss of natural habitat is inevitable.  With a
population over 5 times that of the USA this is inevitable.  I also pick =up
on the point made that the western world is also responsible for many
problems due to polution.  Remember to look at the total picture.
Some correspondents complain about how slow the Kaichen web site is.  I
accessed the site from within China and as with accessing it from Austral=ia
it was quite fast.  I don't see why people are so keen to put the blame f=or
speed of access on Chen Yi or China.  Works well for me as well as some
other correspondents!
On naming.
With respect to orchids I don't expect there to be many errors.  Chen Yi'=s
father is one of the world's top orchid botanists.  With respect to other
plants there will be problems.  One only needs to look at the discussions=on
Arisaema-l to understand the difficulties.  Until the Monograph is comple=ted
in 2000 there is no adequate reference for Arisaema.  The draft translati=on
of the Arisaema section of the Flora of China has been completed but as f=ar
as I am aware the are another 15 species of Arisaema awaiting publication
before they can be added for the final print.  I discussed the species on
offer with Chen Yi and I believe that there may be as many as 20 unpublis=hed
species among the material that they are selling at the moment.  When the
monograph appears it is feasible that one third of the Chinese species in=it
will be dur to the work of Chen Yi and her husband.  If we look at the wo=rk
of the most prolific botanist in the area, Li Heng, who I have worked
closely with, and hope to continue to do so, the Chen's work will possibl=y
contribute twice as many species.  Li Heng's work may include "new specie=s"
that are already extinct!  We have people buying plants from Chen Yi and
putting their own names on them.  This only makes the problem worse but t=he
practise does not stop.  Chen Yi is only to happy to correct names where =the
"correct name" can be backed up with documentation.
On production.
As far as I am aware Chen Yi has four production nurseries which provide
material aside from mild collected material!
On cost.
It makes me laugh when developed countries complain that China dumps its
good at too low a cost.  Consider that the average nursery worker is happ=y
to receive a monthly wage of $US12.00.  Cleaners, storemen and packers ar=e
rich, receiving $US36.00 per month.  These are not typos.
My suggestions.
If you are not sure that you can keep wild collected plants alive and
multiply them - DON'T BUY THEM.
If you can achieve success then you are in fact making a positive
contribution - DO IT.  That also goes for remarks.  If you have something
positive to say do it otherwise, unless you know all the facts keep your
comments to yourself.
To me the Chen's are doing a great job.  The problems that may exist lie
with the people who buy the material.
Greg Ruckert
Australian Areae Collection

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