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Leptodermis kumaonensis Parker

Modern name

Leptodermis kumaonensis R.Parker

A shrub 3 to 6 ft high in the wild, with slender, glabrous, dull purplish young branchlets, the older wood with a brown or grey peeling bark. Leaves opposite, with six or seven pairs of veins, narrow- to broad-elliptic, 138 to 212 in. long, 716 to 114 in. wide, tapered at both ends, dark green and downy above, paler and downy on the midrib and main veins beneath; stalk up to 316 in. long, downy. Flowers sessile, three or five in a cluster, borne in the axils of the uppermost leaves or terminally on very short shoots from the axils of the next one or two pairs of leaves. Corolla white or pale pink, becoming purplish with age, narrowly funnel-shaped, about 12 in. long, widening gradually upward to the five spreading rounded, acuminate lobes, finely downy inside and out. Seeds not seen on a cultivated plant but described as ovoid with a loose fibrous covering.

Native of the central Himalaya (Garhwal, Kumaon, and Nepal) at 8,000 to 10,000 ft. It is reported to grow as undergrowth in silver fir forest or dry oak forest, but also in open positions. A. D. Schilling found it growing in full sun on the summit of Phulchoke mountain south of Katmandu, at 9,000 ft, where it is locally frequent and forms an untidy gnarled shrub.

L. kumaonensis was discovered in Kumaon by Duthie in 1886, but his specimens, and others collected later, were identified at first as L. lanceolata Wall., and later as L. parkeri Dunn. It was recognised as a distinct species by R. N. Parker, a botanist of the Indian Forestry Service, who described in it 1922, and introduced it to cultivation from Kumaon in the following year. It was reintroduced by Stainton, Sykes, and Williams in 1954 under their numbers 9101 and 9081.

The species is not completely hardy at Kew and is no longer in the collection. It needs full sun, and a sheltered position.

L. kumaonensis is most closely related to L. lanceolata Wall., which differs in its leaves with eight to ten pairs of veins, flowers in loose terminal panicles, and glabrous corolla; it is widely distributed in the Himalaya. Another ally is L. parkeri Dunn, which has leaves with fewer pairs of veins (three to six), white or pinkish flowers that do not turn purplish with age, and also differs in its ovoid seeds with a closely adherent fibrous covering. This species is reported to be common on the Dhaula Dhar river and in the Upper Ravi valley, in northern Himachal Pradesh (Chamba). It was discovered in this region by R. N. Parker, whose name is also commemorated in Jasminum parkeri, found by him at the same time and described by Dunn in the same issue of the Kew Bulletin.



Other species in the genus