SHAHINA A. GHAZANFAR & YASIN J. NASIR
Silene himalayensis (Rohrb.) Majumdar
Plants 15-33 cm tall with glandular-pubsecent parts. Stem solitary slender, arising from the stock. Leaves basally congested, few on the flowering stem, 20-50 x 5-13 mm, radical leaves oblanceolate to lanceolate or obovate-spathulate, cauline ones lanceolate, sessile, glandular. Flowers 1-2, rarely 3; nodding. Pedicels densely glandular with septate hairs. Calyx 11-15 mm long, inflated, campanulate; teeth broadly triangular-obtuse with a glandular-ciliate margin, prominent, dark purple or purplish-green, densely glandular or sparsely so. Petal rose lavender to brownish-purple, barely exceeding the calyx, 13-16 mm long, limb bilobed; coronal scales 2, obtuse, each obscurely 2-3 lobed; claw 8-10 mm long, auricled, base glabrous or sparsely ciliate. Carpophore if present very and densely pubescent. Seeds compressed or angular; variable in breadth from 0.8-1.5 mm, winged; the wing sometimes very reduced, yellow brown to brown.
Fl. Per.: July.
Type: Tibet Oct., Regio Alp. alt. 15-17,000 ped., T. Thompson s.n. (B, lectotype G!).
Distribution: C. Asia, Afghanistan, Himalaya, W. Tibet, W. China.
A very variable species throughout its distributional range in which infraspecific taxa have been recognised (Bocquet, l.c. 33-46). In the present text I am treating the subsp. himalayensis in a broad sense to include plants which are small in size (up to 15 cm) and with an inflated seed testa or a testa that narrowly winged or edged.
Typically the subsp. himalayensis is characterised by the 1-2-flowered slender stems up to 33 cm tall. lanceolate leaves. nodding flowers, an inflated with subacute to obtuse teeth, barely exserted petals and narrow winged already noted by J.D. Hooker (l.c. 222) these characters are variable and it is difficult to delimit the taxa entirely satisfactorily. For instance, short-statured plants with larger inflated seeds (Lychnis apetala auct. non L.) are equally common (R.R. Stewart nos. 9351; 9721; 9818; 18367) and grow alongside with plants with narrow winged seeds (i.e. subsp. himalayensis) in the N.W. Himalaya.
In several instances (R.R. Stewart & A. Rahman 24952; Bowes Lyon 8225; Hartmann 501), the seeds appear to have shrunk from the testa giving a false winged appearance. Furthermore the seed may vary in size within the same (R.R. Stewart no. 122 from Khardong Pass, Ladak).
The following specimens bear resemblance to subsp. himalayensis in but have seeds that are minutely pusticulate (G.L. Webster & E. Nasir 6454; R.R. Stewart nos. 5786; 8624; 9772; 20212; 26268; 26209; 26210; 10333; W. Koelz 2416 e) or the pustules are confined to the seed edge only (R.R. Stewart nos. 123; 124; 19958; F. Schmid 651; W. Koelz 9202). There is some resemblance of these plants to S. duthiei Majumdar (=Lychnis brochypetala Hornem). More collections and study are required to verify this.
The subsp. himalayensis is found in the alpine and subalpine zone, often on gravelly slopes or moraines from 3300-5000 m.