Joseph Rock

Joseph Rock (1884-1962) was a botanist and explorer whose connection to Primula is through his botanical collections made in SW China (Yunnan, Sichuan, SW Gansu, E Tibet), Burma and Assam. He collected Primula rockii which is named for him but he also made type collections of P. cerina, P. chlorodryas (now a subsp. of P. dryadifolia), P. coelata, P. fernaldiana, P. saturata, P. tangutica var. serrata, and P. stenocalyx var. luteo-farinosa. He made many more collections of already described Primulas which at present are not available online (as they are not types) with the exception of the Paris herbarium (not searchable). Through the Smithsonian Institution's Field Book Project, Joseph Rock's Field Notes from 1923, collections 8035-9999 and 1928-1929 collections 16000-18850 are online. Joseph is famous for his articles which appeared in National Geographic in 1924-1935 and are available through the National Geographic Virtual Library (may be accessible through your public library for free). Apparently the Royal Geographic Society in London, England has a set of Rock's hand drawn maps (if you have access to these, please email me), and also there are maps available through Harvard (see below).

Si La
How amazed and delighted was I to be standing on the Sila (pass) 28° 2'42.52"N 100°46'8.86"E this spring (2014) which Rock crossed on his way between Youngning and Muli. This is a difficult place to get to and I was hoping that we may find P. gentianoides, a synonym of P. tongolensis, as this pass may be Kingdon-Ward's "summit of the forested range near Yungning" where he collected the type specimen. Unfortunately we had no luck finding this rare species in the short time we had to explore this place.

    Other resources:
    1. Michael Woodhead's Blog In the Footsteps of Joseph Rock. He is coming out with a book soon.
    2. Images by Joseph Rock.
    3. Maps drawn by Joseph Rock.
    4. A small write-up on Joseph Rock is on the Field Book Project's blog.
    5. Another write-up which includes a timeline from 1905 to 1962, from the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation.
    6. An article on The botanical Legacy of Joseph Rock.


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