Chen Yi

Jane McGary
Thu, 02 Sep 2010 08:41:58 PDT
The export plant operation of Chen Yi has been written up several 
times in the Rock Garden Quarterly, which I formerly edited. One 
article, by Jim McClements, was appropriately titled "The Chinese 
Grab Bag." I never bought directly from her, but bulbs I purchased 
from Paul CHristian, which he apparently got from her, were mostly 
misnamed. Dr. McClements does write that he got some very interesting 
plants from this source, but is still trying to identify some of them.

My understanding is that Ms. Chen buys and resells bulbs that are 
both collected in the wild and propagated on small nurseries in 
China. There seems to be no real control over sources or 
identification. For instance, I got the same thing under three 
different names.

I strongly advise that this not be posted as a link on the PBS 
website. The flora of China is being destroyed in many ways, and 
collecting for ornamental uses probably is far less destructive than 
collecting for traditional "medicine," but still we should never 
encourage the former practice. Only seeds and cuttings should be 
taken from wild plants.

To go off on a bit of a tangent, if you've noticed that cashmere is 
no longer a costly luxury, it's because vast herds of goats are being 
raised for it in China and Mongolia, resulting in greatly intensified 
habitat destruction. When I found out about this, I swore off buying 
this fiber, and suggest others do so.

Jane McGary

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