Yunnan province is located in the southwestern frontier of China, and no other province contains such a diverse landscape. Yunnan contains not only luxuriant tropical forests, but also fertile valleys and huge, steep mountain chains, with the sources of fast-rushing rivers like the Mekong and the Yangste. Yunnan is also particularly rich in plant species, accounting for half of China’s total, with over 15,000 species, though the province contains only four percent of China’s territory. The Hengduan mountain chain, in the north, is the richest area for plant diversity, with more than 5,000 species at high elevations. This rich variety includes more than 200 Rhododendron species, 100 Primula, 216 Pedicularis, and 90 Corydalis, among hundreds of others. Northwest Yunnan shelters 46 Chinese endemic genera from 27 families. In short, the province is a botanical paradise!

Cypripedium flavum  Paraquilegia microphylla  Spongiocarpella yunnanensis

The population of Yunnan includes 26 minority groups, such as the Bai, the Yi, and the Miao people, who still wear their colorful traditional costume. Kunming, the capital, is the starting point for expeditions within Yunnan, and the source of flights to Dali, Lijiang, and Zhongdian, referred to as Shangri-La since 2002.

I first traveled to Yunnan in 1994 with a plant hunting expedition organized by the Alpine Garden Society (AGS) and came back since many times. The first trip took place between September 18 and November 1. Our mission was to collect sed, living species and Herbarium material. All in collaboration with the Kunming Institude of Botany. The expedition is known as the A.C.E., or Alpine Garden Society China Expedition and many plants were introduced or reintroduced to cultivation from these collections.

I returned to Yunnan in 1997, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2011 as a tour leader for AGS-organized trips and my own tours for alpine plant enthusiasts. During the tours, I took many photographs, digital images, and digital videos of the impressive landscapes, people, monasteries, villages, and the splendid flora.

Lijiang - Black Dragon Pool Park  Da Xue Shan - Rheum nobile 4515m

On the Google map on top, you can see most of the areas covered by me so far. (in Yunnan)

The cities, villages, and mountain chains visited by me include the following areas

  • Kunming: Western Hills*
  • Shuilin: Stone Forest
  • Dali: Old City
  • Three Pagodas
  • Cang Shan Mountains*
  • Er Hai Lake
  • Lijiang: The Old Town, Dayan
  • Yulong Xue Shan (Green Dragon Snow Mountain)*
  • Gang Ho Ba*
  • Bai Shui (White Water River)*
  • Yufengsi Monastery and the 10,000 Camellia Flowers Temple
  • Zhongdian: Plateau*
  • Shika Shan*
  • Hong Shan*
  • Beta Hai*
  • Tianchi lake*
  • Songzanlin Monastery
  • Napa Hai*
  • Horse racing Festival
  • Samba, Tufa Pools*
  • Haba Shan*
  • Tufa Pools
  • Dechen: Bai Ma Shan (White Horse Mountain)*
  • Weng Sui: Da Xue Shan (Big Snow Mountain)*
  • Birong Gorge*

* indicate the widest variety of plant species

Look for many pictures at: IMAGES–>GALLERY–>My Travels, or click here.