Himalayan Journals or Notes of A Naturalist Index      Next Appendix CDEF





(By Dr. R. D. Thomson and the Rev. M. J. Berkeley, M.A., F.L.S.)


The following remarks, for which I am indebted to the kindness of the able chemist and naturalist mentioned above, will be highly valued, both by those who are interested in the many curious physiological questions involved in the association of the most obscure forms of vegetable life with the remarkable phenomena of mineral springs; or in the exquisitely beautiful microscopic structure of the lower Algæ, which has thrown so much light upon a branch of natural history, whose domain, like that of astronomy, lies to a great extent beyond the reach of the unassisted eye.—J.D.H.


1. Mineral water, Soorujkoond, Behar (vol. i., p. 27), contains chloride of sodium and sulphate of soda.

2. Mineral water, hot springs, Yeumtong, altitude 11,730 feet (see vol. ii., p. 117). Disengages sulphuretted hydrogen when fresh.—This water was inodorous when the bottle was opened. The saline matter in solution was considerably less than in the Soorujkoond water, but like that consisted of chloride of sodium and sulphate of soda. Its alkaline character suggests the probability of its containing carbonate of soda, but none was detected. The rocks decomposed by the waters of the spring consist of granite impregnated with sulphate of alumina. It appears that in this case the sulphurous waters of Yeumtong became impregnated in the air with sulphuric acid, which decomposed the felspar,* and united with its alumina. I found traces only of potash in the salt.

Sulphuretted hydrogen waters appear to give origin to sulphuric acid, when the water impregnated with the gas reaches the surface;

* I have, in my journal, particularly alluded to the garnets (an aluminous mineral) being thus entirely decomposed.—J.D.H.


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and I have fine fibrous specimens of sulphate of lime accompanied with sulphur, from the hot springs of Pugha in west Tibet, brought by Dr. T. Thomson.

3. Mineral water, Momay hot springs, (vol. ii., p. 133).—When the bottle was uncorked, a strong smell of sulphuretted hydrogen was perceived. The water contains about twenty-five grains per imp. gallon, of chloride of sodium, sulphate and carbonate of soda; the reaction being strongly alkaline when the solution was concentrated.

4. Effloresced earth from Behar (vol. i., p. 13), consists of granite sand, mixed with sesquicarbonate of soda.


On the Indian Algæ which occur principally in different parts of the Himalayan Range, in the hot-springs of Soorujkoond in Bengal, Pugha in Tibet, and Momay in Sikkim; and on the Fungi of the Himalayas. By the Rev. M. J. Berkeley, M.A.


It is not my intention in the present appendix to give specific characters or even accurately determined specific names to the different objects within its scope, which have come under investigation, as collected by Dr. Hooker and Dr. Thomson. To do so would require far more time than I have at present been able to devote to the subject, for though every species has been examined microscopically, either by myself or Mr. Broome, and working sketches secured at the same time, the specific determination of fresh water Algæ from Herbarium specimens is a matter which requires a very long and accurate comparison of samples from every available locality, and in the case of such genera as Zygnema, Tyndaridea, and Conferva, is, after all, not a very satisfactory process.

The object in view is merely to give some general notion of the forms which presented themselves in the vast districts visited by the above-mentioned botanists, comprising localities of the greatest possible difference as regards both temperature and elevation; but more especially in the hot-springs which occur in two distant parts of the Himalayas and in Behar, and these again under very different degrees of elevation and of extrinsic temperature.


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The Algæ from lower localities are but few in number, and some of these of very common forms. We have for instance from the Ganges, opposite Bijnour, a Batrachospermum and Conferva crispata, the former purple below, with specimens of Chantransia, exactly as they might occur in the Thames. The Conferva, or more properly Cladophora, which occurs also under various forms, at higher elevations, as in the neighbourhood of Simla and Iskardo, swarms with little parasites, but of common or uninteresting species. In the Bijnour specimens, these consist of common forms of Synedra, Meridion circulare, and a Cymbella, on others from Dacca, there are about three species of Synedra,* a minute Navicula and Gomphonema curvatum. Nothing, in fact, can well be more European. One splendid Alga, however, occurs at Fitcoree, in Behar, on the banks of nullahs, which are dry in hot weather, forming a purple fleece of coarse woolly hairs, which are singularly compressed, and of extreme beauty under the microscope, from the crystalline green of the articulated string which threads the bright red investing sheath. This curious Alga calls to mind in its colouring Cænocoleus Smithii, figured in English Botany, t. 2940, but it has not the common sheath of that Alga, and is on a far larger scale. One or two other allied forms, or species, occur in East Nepal, to which I purpose giving, together with the Behar plant, the generic name of Erythronema. From the Soane River, also, is an interesting Alga, belonging to the curious genus Thwaitesia, in which the division of the endochrome in the fertile cells into four distinct masses, sometimes entirely free, is beautifully marked. In some cases, indeed, instead of the ordinary spores, the whole moss is broken up into numerous bodies, as in the fertile joints of Ulothrix, and probably, as in that case, the resultant corpuscles are endowed with active motion. In Silhet, again, is a magnificent Zygnema, allied to Z. nitidum, with large oval spores, about 1/285 part of an inch long, and a dark golden brown colour, and containing a spiral green endochrome.

Leaving, however, the lower parts of India, I shall first take the species which occur in Khasia, Sikkim, Eastern Nepal, and the adjoining parts of Tibet.

* Two of these appear to be S. Vaucheriæ and S. inæqualis.


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In the hot valleys of the Gtreat Rungeet, at an elevation of about 2000 feet, we have the Erythronema, but under a slightly different form; at Nunklow, at about the same height; in Khasia, again, at twice that elevation; in Eastern Nepal, at 12,000; and, finally, at Momay, reaching up to 16,000 feet. In water, highly impregnated with oxide of iron, at 4000 feet in Sikkim, a Leptothrix occurred in great abundance, coloured with the oxide, exactly as is the case with Algæ which grow in iron springs in Europe. At elevations between 5000 and 7000 feet, several European forms occur, consisting of Ulothrix, Zygnema, Oscillatoria, Lyngbya, Sphærozyga, Scytonema, Conferva, and Cladophora. The species may indeed not be identical with European species, but they are all more or less closely allied to well-known Hydrophytes. One very interesting form, however, either belonging to the genus Zygnema, or possibly constituting a distinct genus, occurs in streams at 5000 feet in Sikkim, consisting of highly gelatinous threads of the normal structure of the Zygnema, but forming a reticulated mass. The threads adhere to each other laterally, containing only a single spiral endochrome, and the articulations are very long. Amongst the threads are mixed those of some species of Tyndaridea. There is also a curious Hormosiphon, at a height of 7000 feet; forming anastomosing gelatinous masses. A fine new species of Lyngbya extends up as high as 11,000 feet. At 13,000 feet occurs either some simple Conferva or Zygnema, it is doubtful which from the condition of the specimens; and at the same elevation, in the nearly dry bed of the stream which flows from the larger lake at Momay, amongst flat cakes, consisting of felspathic silt from the glaciers above, and the débris of Algæ, and abounding in Diatomaceæ, some threads of a Zygnema. At 17,000 feet, an Oscillatoria, attached or adherent to Zannichellia; and, finally, on the bare ground, at 18,000 feet, on the Donkia mountains, an obscure species of Cænocoleus. On the surface of the glaciers at Kinchinjhow, on silt, there is a curious Palmella, apparently quite distinct from any European form.

Amongst the greater part of the Algæ, from 4000 feet to 18,000 feet, various Diatomaceæ occur, which will be best noticed in a tabular form, as follows; the specific name, within brackets, merely indicating the species to which they bear most resemblance:—


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Himantidium (Soleirolii)
Odontidium (hiemale, forma minor)
Epithemia, n. sp.
Navicula, n. sp.
Tabillaria (flocculosa
Odontidium (hiemale)
Odontidium (turgidulum)
Epithemia (ocellata)
Odontidium (turgidulum)
Dictyocha (gracilis)
Odontidium (hiemale)
4000 to 7000 feet
5000 to 7000 feet
7000 feet
6000 to 7000 feet
11,000 feet
16,000 feet
17,000 feet
18,000 feet

We now turn to those portions of Tibet or the neighbouring regions, explored by Dr. Thomson and Captain Strachey. The principal feature in the Algology is the great prevalence of species of Zygnema and Tyndaridea, which occur under a variety of forms, sometimes with very thick gelatinous coats. In not a single instance, however, is there the slightest tendency to produce fructification. Conferva crispata again, as mentioned above, occurs in several localities; and in one locality a beautiful unbranched Conferva, with torulose articulations. At Iskardo, Dr. Thomson gathered a very gelatinous species of Draparnaldia, or more properly, a Stygeoclonium, if we may judge from a little conglomeration of cells which appeared amongst the threads. A Tetraspora in Piti, an obscure Tolypothrix, and one or two Oscillatoriæ, remarkable for their interrupted mode of growth, complete the list of Algæ, with the exception of one, to be mentioned presently; as also of Diatomaceæ, and of the species of Nostoc and Hormosiphon, which occurred in great profusion, and under several forms, sometimes attaining a very large size (several inches across), especially in the districts of Le and Piti, and where the soil or waters were impregnated with saline matters. It is well known that some species of Nostoc form an article of food in China, and one was used for that purpose in a late Arctic expedition, as reported by Dr. Sutherland; but it does not seem that any use is made of them in Tibet, though probably all the large species would form tolerable articles of food, and certainly, from their chemical composition, prove very nutritious. One species is mentioned by Dr. Thomson as floating, without any attachment, in the shallow


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water of the pools scattered over the plains, on the Parang River, separated only by a ridge of mountains from Piti, broad and foliaceous, and scarcely different from the common Nostoc, which occurs in all parts of the globe. I must not, however, neglect to record a very singular new genus, in which the young threads have the characters of Tyndaridea, but, after a time, little swellings occur on their sides, in which a distinct endochrome is formed, extending backwards into the parent endochrome, separated from it by a well defined membrane, and producing, either by repeated pullulation, a compound mass like that of Calothrix, or simply giving rise to a forked thread. In the latter case, however, there is no external swelling, but a lateral endochrome is formed, which, as it grows, makes its way through an aperture, whose sides are regularly inflected. I have given to this curious production the name of Cladozygia Thomsoni.

The whole of the above Algæ occurred at heights varying from 10,000 to 15,500 feet. As in the Southern Himalayan Algæ, the specimens were infested with many Diatomaceæ, amongst which the moat conspicuous were various Cymbellæ and Epithemiæ. The following is a list of the species observed.

Cymbella (gastroides).
Cymbella (gracilis).
Cymbella (Ehrenbergii)
    and three others.
Odontidium (hiemale).
Odontidium (mesodon).
Odontidium n. sp.
Epithemia n. sp.
Synedra (arcus).
Synedra (tenuis).
Synedra (æqualis).
Denticula (obtusa).
Gomphonema (abbreviatum).
Meridion circulare.

There is very little identity between this list and that before given from the Southern Himalayas, as is the case also with the other Algæ. Till the species, however, have been more completely studied, a very accurate comparison cannot be made.

In both instances the species which grow in hot springs have been reserved in order to make their comparison more easy. I shall begin in an inverse order, with those of the springs of Pugha in Tibet, which attain a temperature of 174°. Two Confervæ only occur in the specimens which have been preserved, viz., an Oscillatoria allied to that which I have called O. interrupta, and a true Conferva


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extremely delicate with very long articulations, singularly swollen at the commissures. The Diatomaceæ are:—

Odontidium (hiemale).
Odontidium (mesodon).
Odontidium n. sp., same as at Piti on Conferva.
Denticula (obtusa).
Cymbella, three species.

Scarcely any one of these except the Navicula is peculiar to the locality. A fragment apparently of some Closterium, the only one which I have met with in the collection, accompanies one of the specimens.

The hot springs of Momay, (temp. 110°) at 16,000 feet, produce a golden brown Cænocoleus representing a small form of C. cirrhosus, and a very delicate Sphærozyga, an Anabaina, and Tolypothrix; and at 17,000 feet, a delicate green Conferva with long even articulations. With the latter is an Odontidium allied to, or identical with O. turgidulum, and with the former a fine species of Epithemia resembling in form, but not in marking, E. Faba, E. (Zebra) a fine Navicula, perhaps the same with N. major and Fragilaria (virescens).* In mud from one of the Momay springs (a), I detected Epithemia (Broomeii n.s.), and two small Naviculæ, and in the spring (c) two species of Epithemia somewhat like E. Faba, but different from that mentioned above.

The hot springs of Soorujkoond, of the vegetation of which very numerous specimens have been preserved, are extremely poor in species. In the springs themselves and on their banks, at temperatures varying from 80° to 158°, at which point vegetation entirely ceases, a minute Leptothrix abounds everywhere, varying a little in the regularity of the threads in different specimens, but scarcely presenting two species. Between 84° and 112° there is an imperfect Zygnema with very long articulations, and where the green scum passes into brown, there is sometimes an Oscillatoria, of a very minute stellate Scytonema, probably in an imperfect state. Epithemia ocellata also contributes often to produce the tint. An Anabaina occurs at a temperature of 125°, but the same species was found also in the stream from the springs where the water had become cold, as was also the case with the Zygnema.

* Mr. Thomas Brightwell finds in a portion of the same specimen Epithemia alpestris, Surirella splendida, S. linearis, Smith, Pinnularia viridis, Smith, Navicula (lanceolata) and Himantidium (arcus).


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The Diatomaceæ consisted of:—

Epithemia Broomeii, n. s.
Epithemia thermalis, n. sp.
Epithemia inæqualis, n. sp.
Navicula Beharensis, n. sp.

The vegetation in the three sets of springs was very different. As regards the Confervæ, taking the word in its older sense, the species in the three are quite different, and even in respect of genera there is little identity, but amongst the Diatomaceæ there is no striking difference, except in those of the Behar springs where three out of the four did not occur elsewhere. In the Pugha and Momay springs, the species were either identical with, or nearly allied to those found in neighbouring localities, where the water did not exceed the ordinary temperature. A longer examination will doubtless detect more numerous forms, but those which appear on a first examination are sure to give a pretty correct general notion of the vegetation. The species are certainly less numerous than I had expected, or than might be supposed from the vegetation of those European hot springs which have been most investigated.

In conclusion, I shall beg to add a few words on the Fungi of the Himalayas, so far as they have at present been investigated. As regards these there is a marked difference, as might be anticipated from the nature of the climates between those parts of Tibet investigated by Dr. Thomson, and the more southern regions. The fungi found by Dr. Thomson were but few in number, and for the most part of very ordinary forms, differing but little from the produce of an European wood. Some, however, grow to a very large size, as for instance, Polyporus fomentarius on poplars near Iskardo, exceeding in dimensions anything which this species exhibits in Europe. A very fine Æcidium also infests the fir trees (Abies Smithiana), a figure of which has been given in the “Gardeners’ Chronicle,” 1852, p. 627, under the name of AEcidium Thomsoni. This is allied to the Hexenbesen of the German forests, but is a finer species and quite distinct. Polyporus oblectans, Geaster limbatus, Geaster mammosus, Erysiphe taurica, a Boletus infested with Sepedonium mycophilum, Scleroderma verrucosum, an AEcidium, and a Uromyces, both on Mulgedium Tataricum, about half-a-dozen Agarics, one at an altitude of 16,000 feet above the Nubra river, a Lycoperdon, and Morchella semilibera, which


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is eaten in Kashmir, and exported when dry to the plains of India, make up the list of fungi.

The region of Sikkim is perhaps the most productive in fleshy fungi of any in the world, both as regards numbers and species, and Eastern Nepal and Khasia yield also an abundant harvest. The forms are for the most part European, though the species are scarcely ever quite identical. The dimensions of many are truly gigantic, and many species afford abundant food to the natives. Mixed with European forms a few more decidedly tropical occur, and amongst those of East Nepal is a Lentinus which has the curious property of staining every thing which touches it of a deep rhubarb yellow, and is not exceeded in magnificence by any tropical species. The Polypori are often identical with those of Java, Ceylon, and the Philippine Isles, and the curious Trichocoma paradoxum which was first found by Junghuhn in Java, and very recently by Dr. Harvey in Ceylon, occurs abundantly on the decayed trunks of laurels, as it does in South Carolina. The curious genus Mitremyces also is scattered here and there, though not under the American form, but that which occurs in Java. Though Hymenomycetes are so abundant, the Discomycetes and Ascomycetes are comparatively rare, and very few species indeed of Sphœria were gathered. One curious matter is, that amongst the very extensive collections which have been made there is scarcely a single new genus. The species moreover in Sikkim are quite different, except in the case of some more or less cosmopolite species from those of Eastern Nepal and Khasia: scarcely a single Lactarius or Cortinarius for instance occurs in Sikkim, though there are several in Khasia. The genus Boletus through the whole district assumes the most magnificent forms, which are generally very different from anything in Europe.

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