Yet more to say and try to explain about the challenges involved in 
*attempting* to identify *Berberis.*

Whilst preparing my previous comments I was concentrating upon  information 
about Nepal/E.Himalaya as the two suggested species are not known from 

However, the observations of Jafri (then Herbarium, University of Karachi) 
who revised Berberidaceae for 'Flora of Pakistan' are worth sharing here (I 
have a copy of this booklet - what is available on the internet on 
efloraofPakistan is only a fraction of the original details.

"*A difficult genus due to variable nature of its many species, probably 
affected by environment and hybridization.  Overlapping of characters, 
especially in leaves, stem colour, flower and berry size etc. are not 
lacking in our several closely related species.  Leaf texture, serrations 
etc, are said to vary from season to season and with the age of the plant 
in some of our species [observation of Parker]. Fruits may be red when 
immature but turn black or dark-blue with maturity.  Gregarious or sporadic 
distribution, evergreen or deciduous habit, fruit colour etc. cannot be 
ascertained from a dried herbarium specimen unless comprehensive fielkd 
notes are provided.  Among our species... need experimental studies.  
Ahrendt made comprehensive studies on the genus in several cases but he had 
very few specimens from our area.  No doubt he compared herbarium specimens 
and any living ones grown at Kew and other places but still some of our 
species, described by him, are based on a single specimen.  From the small 
number of herbarium specimens at my disposal, I find quite a number of 
intergrading forms between some of the species.  Looking into the range of 
variation the descriptions provided by Ahrendt for some of our species are 
quite inadequate".*

*May I add that much of what he said applies to many different genera in 
the Himalaya.  Previous authors often had few, often poor quality 
specimens, frequently with no field notes at all.  I feel I must comment 
that the quality of collection of pressed specimens for India herbaria 
needs to improve for all genera.  This has resulted often in scrappy, 
poorly pressed & dried specimens, usually only a single one for smaller 
specimens when several should have been gathered to fill a herbarium sheet 
they would ultimately be attached to.  And field notes are generally 
exceedingly poor to non-existent.  This results in the reference material 
in Indian herbaria frequently being inadequate.  Even if correctly 
identified, only having such scraps means it is very difficult to then 
compare with fresh material.  I return to my approach to plant 
identification being akin to detective work - the fewer clues/supporting 
evidence, the harder the task, making it more difficult to have confidence 
in the ultimate objective of accurate and reliable identifications.*

*Modern-day digital cameras have the potential to help transform the 
situation provided they are utilised methodically and carefully, with 
quality close-ups of the essential parts of the plant.  The traditional 
photos (in pre-digital days) of 1 at most two general images of the "pretty 
bits" are often inadequate to identify a plant with confidence - which is 
why most herbarium taxonomists declined the opportunity to attempt to 
identify plants from slides in the 1980s-1990s.   Nowadays, certain 
specialists rightly consider pressed specimens remain essential  but these 
combined with the best of what digital photography can offer is a way 
forward.  Likewise their is a need for specialists to observe living 
material (whether in the wild or cultivation). As I shall continue to 
repeat the Nagoya Protocol (no matter its good intentions) will damage the 
study of plants and efforts to reliably identify plants.*

resources exist SHOULD be focussed on the plant species which are GENUINELY 
rare.  Not those which are claimed to be 'Rare & Endangered' when they are 

*One of the many reasons this google group and the efforts of Mr Garg 
should be actively supported is the objective of improving the level and 
consistency of identification of Indian plants.  The involvement of both 
those who hold professional positions in the field of botany (not all of 
them are involved directly in plant identification), those with botanical 
training (though holding a degree in botany, as was the case in the UK 
where nowadays no traditional botany degree courses exist, was never a 
guarantee one knew how to identify plants) combined with interested 
amateurs can achieve much. In the UK we have a fine tradition, through the 
BSBI (now the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland) of a vast amount of 
field studies have been undertaken through a combination of professionals 
and amateurs (many of whom were of professional standard).*

*I draw another comparison with the UK.  If someone goes for a walk on a 
Sunday afternoon admiring the wild flowers they come across and casually 
identify them, it does not really matter, whether or not the are correctly 
named.  But if any type of survey is undertaken or the identifications are 
used in any sort of printed or nowadays other means of publication, it 
really does.  Too many data-bases (the world over) are being ruined by 
incorrectly identified records.*

On Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 3:23:23 PM UTC+1, Saroj Kumar Kasaju wrote:

> Dear Members,
> Sharing some pictures for ID shot at the Chandragiri Hill Kathmandu on 19 
> September 2016 at 8200 ft.
> Could it be 
> *Berberis griffithiana *var.* pallida* (J. D. Hooker & Thomson) D. F. 
> Chamberlain & C. M. Hu
> syn: 
> *Berberis bhutanensis* Ahrendt (synonym)
> The plant is tall about 15 ft in height or more.
> Thank you.

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"efloraofindia" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email 
To post to this group, send an email to
Visit this group at
For more options, visit

Reply via email to