Clematis argentilucida from SW China

Tucked away on a boundary wall near the glasshouses, but not on public display, is one of the oldest living Clematis specimens in our collection. This plant was collected in SW China by the Chinese botantist Te-Tsun Yü (1908 – 1986) during the joint Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh & Arnold Arboretum sponsored expedition in 1937.

Clematis argentilucida inflorescence. 19371047

Clematis argentilucida inflorescence. 19381047

Clematis argentilucida still in bud

Clematis argentilucida still in bud








Both institutes received shipments of some 2,000 individual seed collections to introduce into cultivation from Yü. The seed was in such abundance that the Arnold Arboretum went on to distribute over 12,000 seed packets from the collection to botanical gardens and institutes in the US and Europe. As well as the seed Yü made over 10,000 herbarium collections during that year in the field, which averaged 50 per day. These again were sent to RBGE and to Arnold Arboretum. A very quick (and not at all comprehensive) survey showed Yü was responsible for the discovery of about 100 species new to science – probably more.

Te-Tsun Yu during his visit to RBGE between 1947-1950. From the RBGE library archive.

Te-Tsun Yu during the time he spent at RBGE between 1947-1950. From the RBGE library archive.

Yü also helped to found the Kunming Institute of Botany (an organisation we still have very close links with) in Yunnan Province, later became Editor of the Flora Reipublicae Popularis Sinicae (vol.s 36-38, Rosaceae) and Director of the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

This plant is just another example of the living history that fills our Living Collection and that not all of the great plant hunters were from Europe and the US.

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  1. Alan,

    While collected in Nov 1937 it took until May1938 before it got back here for accessioning; therefore it’s accession num is 19381047