The Pride of Gesneriad Plants: Primulina rotundifolia (Hemsl.) Mich. Möller & A. Weber, is Probably the First Collection Record in the Plants Taxonomy History of China

        Recently, Bin-Jie Ge and Ma Jin-Shuang Ma, come from the Chenshan Herbarium (CSH), have systematically sorted out the information of the early plants specimens’ collections by Chinese, and verified the source of some precious and historical specimens (The original source:

图1 卵圆报春苣苔的模式标本照片

Figs 1. The Type Specimens Photo of Primulina rotundifolia (Hemsl.) Mich. Möller & A. Weber


         Shi-Yong Meng et al. (2018) had been completed a work based on a large amount of digital information of specimens in many herbaria. They believed that a specimen of Acacia confuse (no collection number, but collection barcode number: BH002081) should be the first collection with collector’s name and detailed collecting time by Chinese researchers/botanists. It was collected from Emei Mountain on 18th June, 1904. The collector was I-Jin Wang or I-Yen Wong, a student of Prof. Kuan-Kuang Tsoong when he taught at Nanjing Academy of Jiangsu in 1901 (quoted from Shi-Yyong Meng, et al 2018; Bin-Jie Ge & Jin-Shuang Ma, 2018).


​Figs. 2 The original document of the first publication of Primulina rotundifolia (When it was published, as a member of Didymocarpus)



       However, after inquired the data on the website of the Global Plants, Bin-Jie Ge and Jin-Shuang Ma found that there were two specimens collected before the year of 1904.

      The following section is quoted from the WeChat official accounts of CSH, and written by Bin-Jie Ge and Jin-Shuang Ma.

      In December of 1888, the specimen (No. #106) was collected from the North River in the southeastern of Guangdong Province by a native collector firstly. This is the first copy of specimen of Chirita rotundifolia (Hemsl.) D. Wood (Herbarium No.: K000858353). It was originally published by Hemsley as Didymocarpus rotundifolius Hemsl. in 1890, and was designated as the holotype (Wood treated it as a new combination, Chirita rotundifolia (Hemsl.) D. Wood in 1972 and formally published it) (Figs. 1, 2). Through the original literature, we found that the cited specimen number is Ford, #106, instead of Native collector, #106. The Ford should be Charles Ford, the then Superintendent of the Government Gardens and Tree Planting Department (Dunn & Tutcher, 1912; He, 2016). In 1878, with the impetus of Joseph Hooker who was the director of Kew Garden, Charles Ford established the Hong Kong Herbarium (HK) with collection in Hong Kong, South China and neighbor countries. And it was the first modern Herbarium in China. According the record on the specimen, we speculate the collector was a local people of Guangdong and hired by Ford. The record didn’t indicate a specific name of collector, but only a Native Collector and that meant a local collector. So when Hemsley was writing the manuscript, he considered Ford as the collector of the specimen. Anyway, the record is not standardized enough so that we cannot know the specific collectors, but we confirm this specimen was collected by a Chinese (Figs. 3, 4, 5).

图3 收藏于华南植物园标本馆的卵圆报春苣苔的老标本(I)

​Figs 3. The specimen of Chirita rotundifolia, stored in South China Botanical Garden Herbarium (I)



图4 收藏于华南植物园标本馆的卵圆报春苣苔的老标本资料信息(II)

​Figs 4. The specimen information of Chirita rotundifolia stored in South China Botanical Garden Herbarium (II)


图5 收藏于华南植物园标本馆的卵圆报春苣苔的老标本(III)

Figs 5. The specimen of Chirita rotundifolia, stored in South China Botanical Garden Herbarium (III)


 Chirita doesn't exist anymore at present. Almost all species of previous Chirita section Gibbosaccus / Chiritopsis and two species of Wentsaiboea were merged into the former monotypic genus, Primulina (Weber et al., 2011). So, Primulina has the highest biodiversity in Chinese Gesneriaceae. We were being surprised to find out the species (including varieties) number is already more than190+ (Xu et al., 2017; Möller et al., 2016).

     Undoubtedly, the affiliation of Chirita rotundifolia has been changed and renamed Primulina rotundifolia Mich. Möller & A. Weber. However, in the name’s glory and beautiful value, this species will not be ignored and forgotten any time (Figs. 6, 7, 8).

图6 卵圆报春苣苔在广东北部自然生境下的开花植株

Figs. 6 The flowering plant of Primulina rotundifolia in the natural habitat of North Guangdong


图7 卵圆报春苣苔花朵的正面观,请注意其浓艳的紫色

Figs. 7 The frontal view of Primulina rotundifolia corolla, please pay attention to the heavy purple of corolla


图8 卵圆报春苣苔花朵的侧面观,请再次注意其浓艳的紫色

Figs. 8 The lateral view of Primulina rotundifolia corolla, please pay attention to the heavy purple of corolla again



        Acknowledgements: We thank Dr. Bin-Jie Ge from Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden and Dr. Li-Hua Yang from South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences for the materials, information and photos of specimens of Primulina rotundifolia.