Snow Lotus (Saussurea laniceps and S. involucrata)
Snow lotus among the mountains of Tibet
The snow lotus (Saussurea laniceps) is a high altitude plant (over 12,000 feet above sea level) with brilliant white flowers appearing over dark green leaves which grow through the rocks of mountain peaks. The whole plant is harvested in July and August to yield the herb that is used as a tonic for weakness, a therapy for menstrual disorders, and a remedy for arthritis. It grows in Tibet, Sichuan, Sinkiang, and Qinghai. Although S. laniceps is the commonly designated plant, other species of Saussurea growing in the mountains are used interchangeably, including: Saussurea involucrata, S. medusa, S. gossypiphora, S. polylada, S. tridactyla, S. gnaphaloides, S. kingii, S. obvallata, S. tangutica, S. globosa, S. longifolia. In fact, Saussurea involucrata is most often used in Chinese medicine as a source of snow lotus because it can be found growing at somewhat lower altitudes, in snowy peaks throughout China, including the Huangshan Mountains of Anhui.Due to the harsh environment of the snow lotus and the strong demand for its use in traditional herbalism, the snow lotus has become quite rare. Therefore, efforts have been made to protect it and develop cultivation. For example, the Lijiang Botanic Garden and Research Station in Yunnan Province has developed a research program aimed at the conservation of alpine plant species from the region. Intensive scientific research will be carried out on the propagation and cultivation of these plants and the best means of securing the survival and recovery of endangered plants. Particular emphasis will be paid to establishing propagation and cultivation of species that are presently being collected from the wild for medicinal purposes.