DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE WE ARE GOING? - Collections of ban li (September 9, 2011)

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On our second day in the mountains, we were told we would be able to collect samples of C. mollissima. We did not collect these on Nan Gong mountain, but instead traveled about 20 miles south and then about 40 miles north and east of that site to find large ban li.

At the first tree, we had to hike up about 1/4 mile to a farmer's house. He said the tree was fairly large when he was a kid, and our guides estimated it at about 100 years old. Again, it was dangling on the side of a mountain, and it took some work to get that sample.

From there, we drove another 2 hours, up through some of the most gorgeous country I've ever seen. The terrain was much like the Rockies, but vegetated. We climbed from about 1000 ft elevation up to almost 5800 ft elevation, all the while twisting and turning around Nan Gong Mountain. We were basically going from west to east through the National Park on a concrete road.

We kept going, and going, and going. We finally came to a small town where we met with some local officials and ate lunch. They mostly took shots of rice wine. We mostly ate, and wondered where we were going!

Back on the road, we took a right across a creek, and started back up a mountain. Unfortunately, our path all the way up was blocked by a very bad rock slide, so we had to back down the mountain. We found a small, about 20 year old ban li that we sampled. While we sampled, the bus tried to turn around. Those efforts were unsuccessful until about 30 minutes later and some excavation of a small rock wall. The bus was finally turned around and we were back on the road again.

Since we'd only collected from 2 trees, we wondered again where we were going. How far would it be until we would find another ban li? Although C. mollissima is quite plentiful in Shaanxi province, and much of northern China, the trick is finding a LARGE tree that is also "wild". Most Chinese chestnuts that you actually come across are quite young, and most are grafted into orchards.

So, we finally reached another area where we pulled into a farmers house alongside the road. We climbed up about 500 feet and found an area where someone had grafted Chinese chestnuts amongst some rather large and older C. mollissima. Here, we were able to collect the final samples of our trip.


Oh.  Who cares if the road is washed out a little bit and the van will barely squeeze through?


Or that there are giant rocks in the way!  (picture by Andy Newhouse)


Of course we forged on to find wild ban li!  The C. mollissima is the large tree on the left hand of the frame.  Andy is in the middle of the picture, getting ready to take the samples.


In this picture, Bill has taken over cutting up the stem segments and putting them in the test tubes with RNALater.  Andy is in the background using a cork borer.  It was at this site that I dropped my camera about 100 feet down the slope.  In retrieving it, I had the misfortune of finding that Chinese stinging nettle acts the same as it does here in the US.  Fun for me!


Town of Zoujiaping where we made our first C. mollissima collection.  The mountains of southern Shaanxi province are just spectacular.


And on through the bamboo forest, up a hill (we were always either going up or down a hill.  No flat land here!!) to our last collection site for C. mollissima.


We probably spent a good 6 hours just driving on this day, but the terrain is really spectacular.  Andy was able to take this picture out of his window as we were making our way over NanGong Mountain from the west to the east.  We went up about 4500 vertical feet in 6 miles and then back down the same way, just twisting and turning the whole way.  In the middle of this picture, you can see the concrete road winding it's way around the mountains.  An how about those "guardrails", huh?  I'm kind of just glad we made it back to 1500 feet elevation in one piece, and with all four wheels on the road (most of the time!).

trip around langao.JPG

And, for fun, I though you guys might like to see a map of all the twists and turns we made looking for 6, that's right, 6, Chinese chestnuts in China.  You'd think it wouldn't be that difficult . . . !

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This page contains a single entry by SARA FITZSIMMONS published on September 11, 2011 10:01 AM.

FINALLY IN THE MOUNTAINS - Collections of mao li and zhui li (September 8, 2011) was the previous entry in this blog.

TRIP FROM ANKANG to XI'AN (September 10, 2011) is the next entry in this blog.

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