Thailand - Pagodas, Beaches, Pad Thai ... and Primulas

Primula siamensis
My holiday experiences in Thailand include golden pagodas, sandy beaches, elephant rides and tasty food. It isn't a place particularly noted for Primulas, but they do grow there. In the northern part of the country, near the popular tourist destination of Chiang Mai, is Doi Chiang Dao, a peak of 2,175m (7,136ft), and the home of the first Thai species described in 1922 as Primula siamensis. This is a really lovely species, growing in limestone crevices, with wide open flowers of violet-blue.

Doi Chiang Dao by Adam Baker
Nearby is Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand at 2,565m (8,415ft). The top 700m is the habitat for Primula intanoensis. This is a curious species, part of the little known Carolinella section, with small white flowers, round leaves and calyptrate seed capsules (the capsules don't split into 5 valves as most other species do, but rather have a lid which lifts to expose the seeds). It was mistakenly re-described from the same collections by C.M.Hu as P. larsenii.
Primula caulifera P00649638, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris 
A third species is even more unusual. It is Primula caulifera and it is found further to the south at Tunkamang in the Chaiyaphum district at only 800m elevation. This species doesn't look like a Primula at all, having no basal rosette and a long stem with alternate leaves. The small rose colored flowers are borne on whorls (tiers).
Primula forbesii subsp. forbesii
The last species found in Thailand is an extension of the geographical distribution of Primula forbesii subsp. meiantha. This was initially described as Primula meiantha from Burma, but it was found on Doi Chiang Dao in 2002 and 2005 though a subsequent search in 2009 failed to locate this species again. It is similar to P. forbesii subsp. forbesii (familiar to many as a popular houseplant) but with smaller flowers.

If you are going to Thailand and visit these places, I would be interested in images of these species.

Pam Eveleigh © 2016


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