A ridge of the Chimanimani Mountains, viewed from a school compound in the Zomba area (Photo: M.Cheek)
kew.org > Kew Science > Projects > Flora Zambesiaca (FZ)

Flora Zambesiaca (FZ)

The definitive manual and identification tool for the vascular plant species of South-Central Africa, drained by the Zambezi (Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana and the Zambezi Region of Namibia).

Project details

Project Department: 
Project Leader: 
Funded By: 
Krukoff Trust

Objectives and outputs

The Flora Zambesiaca (FZ) programme, led by Kew, involves the research, analysis, writing and publication of a regional Flora (in around 53 parts) for south-central Africa, covering Botswana, the Caprivi Strip (Zambezi Region) in Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The project started in 1960 and was designed to delimit, describe, name, and provide a definitive catalogue of the plant species of the area, a means to identify them using keys, and an indication of their habitat and distribution. The total Flora is estimated at 10,500 species, of which around 90% have been published to date in 45 parts, taking up 55cm of shelf-space. In some families more than half the species were discovered, described and named during the life of the project. It is intended that the Flora will be complete by the end of 2018, making it only the third Tropical Regional Flora ever to have been concluded, following the conclusion of the Flora of West Tropical Africa (2nd Ed. 1972) and the Flora of Tropical East Africa (2012).

The many partner institutions involved are listed below. They include national herbaria in the region and institutions across Europe. Many family treatments have been prepared by past and present Kew Science staff.

Since 2000, there have been efforts to increase the accessibility of information contained in the printed volumes of the African Floras. All published volumes of Flora Zambesiaca up to 2008 are now available as a fully searchable database on the internet. The database retrieves information for any name and allows the compilation of checklists of taxa for geographical divisions of the Flora. Advanced features include filtering on habit, habitat, altitudinal range and endemic status. Dichotomous identification keys are included, but not illustrations. It is anticipated that FZ will be one of the first products released by the Kew Strategic Output 'Plants of the World Online portal' (POWO).

The TIPAs Mozambique project, (Tropical Plant Important Areas is another Kew Science Strategy Output), also depends on FZ data for the identification of conservation priority species, their distribution and favoured habitats.

Post-Flora products such as national checklists and Floras (for example Flora of Zimbabwe and Flora of Mozambique) are already being based on FZ. The Southern African Plants Specialist Group Regional Redlisting Authority for plants also depends upon Flora Zambesiaca.

Kew leads this project.

Objectives

  • To provide definitive descriptions and links to other works for all the wild vascular plant species of South-Central Africa.
  • To enable identification of all vascular plant species in South-Central Africa.
  • To provide a foundation upon which conservation assessments of plant species in South-Central Africa can be made.

Outputs

The following final families are in the process of being completed (2016-2018):

  • Commelinaceae - R. Faden (Botany Dept., Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC)
  • Compositae - tribes 6-12, D. J. N. Hind and collaborators
  • Apocynaceae - part 2 D. Goyder, M. Gilbert
  • Cyperaceae - J. Browning, M. Lock, K. Vollesen, H. Beentje

Partners and collaborators

Belgium

  • National Botanic Gardens, Meise

Malawi

  • National Herbarium, Zomba

Mozambique

Namibia

  • National Botanical Research Institute, Windhoek

Norway

  • University of Oslo

Portugal

  • IICT Herbarium, Lisbon
  • University of Coimbra

South Africa

  • South African National Biodiversity Institute
  • Buffelskloof Herbarium, Lydenberg

Zambia

  • Forestry Department Herbarium, Kitwe
  • Mt Makulu Herbarium, Lusaka

Zimbabwe

  • National Herbarium & Botanic Gardens, Harare
  • Flora of Zimbabwe website, Harare
  • University of Zimbabwe, Harare