Studying Primula gracilipes

When in Nepal in the spring of 2018, I had a chance to study Primula gracilipes in detail. This species blooms early - I saw it in April. It belongs in section Petiolares and is closely related to several other species which have a similar loose cushion habit and dimorphic leaves (two different leaf shapes are produced depending on the time of year). One of the key features to see when identifying this group of species is the flower scape (or lack of). I used a technique where leaves were removed from one side of the plant to observe this and those leaves were then laid out for imaging. What follows are some of the images I took to document this species. Click on the images for larger sized versions.
An example plant is removed from the soil and measured.
The plant is shown upside down to show the root structure
and the absence of basal bud scales

Leaves removed from one side on the plant, with petioles intact. The leaves are arranged in order of their removal,
outer leaves (left) and inner leaves (right). The leaves are turned over, keeping their placement to show the underside.
Now you can see the internal structure of the plant.
You can clearly see that there is no scape, but that each pedicle comes from the base of the plant. You can see the bracts which are broad at the base and taper to a point.
P. gracilipes produces two different leaf shapes. The form with the long petioles are produced late season so I searched the base of several plants to find last years old leaves.

At a lower elevation I found plants which had bloomed earlier and were now producing this second leaf shape.

An example of farina on new leaves (right)

The flowers are shown from the side to see variation in the calyx. The flower on the right is a "thrum", and you can see the bulge in the flower tube where the anthers are located.

Farina on the back of the flowers
Folding a black velvet cloth, I make a place to hold the flowers upright to show the face.
This allows me to show variation in color and shape.
Using a sharp razor blade, I cut open a flower. This is a "pin" where the anthers are below the stigma.
This is a "thrum" where the anthers are above the stigma.
At lower elevations, plants were forming seed capsules.
Variations in color.
Pale color variation.

Dark color variation.


P. aureata (left), P. gracilipes (right).

P. gracilipes (top), P. deuteronana (bottom).

Comparison of P. deuteronana (left), P. gracilipes (right).
Pam Eveleigh © 2018


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