A morphological investigation of some Himalayan bamboos with an enumeration of taxa in Nepal and Bhutan
The taxonomy of Himalayan bamboos has been neglected in the past because of their unpredictable flowering and their inaccessibility. Recent awareness of the fragility of the Himalayan ecosystem, and the potential economic and conservational role of bamboos has highlighted this neglect. The introduction of various programs by the governments of Nepal and Bhutan to address their environmental problems has allowed detailed study of most of the bamboos in the two countries. The opportunity to study live plants in their natural environments has allowed detailed morphological investigations to be undertaken, as well as the collection of much new herbarium material. The morphological studies have shed new light upon the contentious relationships between many of the Himalayan genera, allowing clearer decisions to be made upon which genera should be recognised, which should be relegated to synonymy, and how the genera can be distinguished in the field. By visiting areas in which bamboos had not been collected before, and revisiting some of the areas in which type specimens were collected last century, it was possible to improve upon knowledge of the characteristics of many previously named species, and to describe many previously unknown taxa. The bamboos recorded for Nepal are consequently increased from four genera and ten species to eleven genera and thirty species. In Bhutan, where no previous enumeration had been made, thirteen genera and twenty weight species were found. Fourteen new species, four new subspecies, and three new varieties are described. In addition nine new combinations were found to be necessary.