Roscoea alpina Royle, Illustr. Bot. Himal. 361, t. 89, fig. 1. 1839. (see note); Wight, l.c. VI, t. 2013. 1853; Baker in Hook. f., Fl. Brit. Ind. 6:207. 1890; Kitam. in Kihara, Fauna & Fl. Nepal Himal. 98. 1955; Stewart, Ann. Cat. Vasc. Pl W. Pak. & Kashm. 66.1972.
SHAHINA A. GHAZANFAR and ROSEMARY M. SMITH
Plants 15-25 cm tall. Leaves 7-15 x 1.3-L7 cm, lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, excluding the sheath, apex subacute; sheaths as long as, or shorter than the leaf blades, forming an apparent stem. Flower dark purple, 1-5. Calyx tube 2.5-4 mm, split on one side to the base. Corolla tube longer than the calyx; anterior segment c. 15 x 15 mm, rounded, erect; lateral segments oblong. Labellum c. 2 cm, bifid in lower 1/3. Staminodes circular to elliptic, shorter than the lateral segments. Fertile stamen about as long as the staminodes; anther cells linear. Style slender, margin of erect stigma ciliate.
Type: India, Simla to Fagu, Jacquemont 1024.
Distribution: From Kashmir to Bhutan.
The flowers often come out before the leaves and appear very attractive. The flowers are protandrous and entomophilous. Pollination is ensured by the versatile anther (with the stigma) hitting the back of the insect as it probes on the labellum.
Note: The figures in Royle’s Illustrated Himalayan Mountain Plants, plate 89, have been mixed (as pointed out by Collett in a note in Oct. 1897 in the RAW copy of the book). Figs. 1 & 3 are of the same species, Roscoea alpina. Fig. 3 of a plant with more developed leaves is wrongly given as Roscoea purpurea. The copy at K is annotated “not purpurea Sm” for Fig. 3 and quoted by Baker in Flora of British India 6: 207, as Roscoea alpina; see ms. unsigned note by Bentham on Herb. Royle specimen of “Roscoea purpurea Royle”, Ill. t. 89 at K-“no-this is purpurea var. procera (Wall.), but not the plant figured by Royle as purpurea, which is only the more leafy form of alpine”. All the drawings in Fig. 1 are of Roscoea alpine; var. minor Royle is not recognised (see Cowley in Kew Bull. 36(4): 766. 1982).