The Land of the Blue Poppy

Travels of a Naturalist in Eastern Tibet

The Land of the Blue Poppy

In 1911, Francis Kingdon Ward (1885–1958) set off on his first solo expedition and collected hundreds of plant species, many previously unknown. From Burma, he headed into the Hengduan Mountains of north-western Yunnan province, exploring along the Mekong, Yangtze and Salween rivers in the region between eastern Tibet and western Sichuan. In 2003, this area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the world's most biodiverse temperate zones, its extraordinary topography arises from its position at the collision point of tectonic plates. This fascinating book, first published in 1913, was one of the most popular by a prolific author. It is generously illustrated with Kingdon Ward's own photographs and maps from the trip. The blue poppy of the title is Meconopsis speciosa, which Kingdon Ward described as the 'Cambridge blue poppy'; rather than the famous 'Tibetan blue poppy' (Meconopsis betonicifolia) that he later brought to England.

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