Flora of Iraq revival
With the help of the new government in Iraq, work is underway to complete the Flora of Iraq after 25 years on hold.
31 Jul 2012
Diphelypaea boissieri (Reut.) Nicolson, to be published in Volume 7 of the Flora of Iraq (Image: Saman Abdulrahman)
Iraq has a rich and diverse flora with some 3,300 species found in its deserts, plains and mountains. The descriptive Flora of Iraq started in 1965 as a joint project between RBG Kew and the Ministry of Agriculture, Baghdad. Nine volumes were planned and six were published between 1966 and 1985 (vols 1, 2, 3, 4 parts 1 & 2, 8, and 9; covering some 1,783 species) edited by C.C. Townsend (Kew) and Evan Guest (Iraq) with the collaboration of the Botany Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, Baghdad.
Progress on the Flora was interrupted by political change in Iraq. Now work has recommenced under the editorship of Shahina Ghazanfar and John Edmondson. The three remaining volumes (vols 5 parts 1 & 2, 6, and 7; to cover 1,520 species) are in various stages of completion; all need to be updated and illustrated. Many authors from Iraq and other countries who contributed towards the Flora are now retired or have passed away, but its ‘revival’ has created a great deal of interest amongst young Iraqi taxonomists.
Iraqi students help to complete Flora
Iraqi botanists are contributing treatments of selected genera or sending in new distribution records of species and so far three scientists have visited Kew to work on different plant families. John Edmondson (Kew Research Associate) has typed all the existing manuscripts into electronic format, including the Gazetteer, and Thomas McDaniel (Kew sandwich student from Bath University) has completed a database of the accepted names, synonyms and distributions of all the taxa in Iraq.
With the enthusiasm and good will of so many people behind the Flora of Iraq, we aim to publish Vol. 5(2) this year, with the others to follow shortly after. Major families to be published include: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae (vol. 5 part 2), Chenopodiaceae and Caryophyllaceae (vol. 5 part 1), Asteraceae (Compositae) (vol. 6), Lamiaceae, Convolvulaceae and Boraginaceae (vol. 7).
Item from Dr Shahina Ghazanfar (Head of Temperate Regional Team, RBG Kew)
Kew Scientist, issue 41
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