Bulletin 37 - March 1989: Botany Recorder's Report

Botany Recorder's Report

1988 was another year of consolidating knowledge already gained, rather than producing many new records. The Recorder's main job has been to revise and update his manuscript for an introductory flora to the UAE, which will be published this Spring. This has involved close liaison with, and visits to, Edinburgh Botanic Garden during the year to sort out problem areas of identification and classification.

Throughout the year Bish Brown has collected specimens to further add to our knowledge of habitat compositions. Some of these pressed specimens are at RBG Edinburgh while others are being added to the Group's own modest Herbarium in Abu Dhabi. The main recording period was in the Spring when a trip of several days was made to the Northern Emirates and Northern Oman. During this trip many species previously recorded only at greater heights in the Musandam Peninsula were found also to be thriving in the UAE, in the hills north of Masafi. Among these were 6 new records for the UAE itself, including Daucus durieua, an umbellifer, which is apparently a first record for the whole of Arabia. The Musandam. Mountains also produced 8 new records for the Group, including a Helianthemum and a couple of new ferns. It is intended to follow up with a trip to the hills in April 1989.

During 1988 two outstanding books on regional flora were published. Sheila Colenette's massive guide, the "Flowers of Saudi Arabia" is a superb example of dedication by an amateur to the botany of that country over a twelve year period, and is accompanied by excellent photographs illustrating some 1500 species. At E90, however, it does not come cheap. The other book is "Plants of Dhofar" by A. Miller and M. Morris which, though more restricted in geographical area, nonetheless gives excellent descriptions of many species also found within the UAE and includes lengthy notes on traditional and medicinal uses of a variety of species.

Two small publications from RGB Edinburgh concern 5 new plant species found in Oman, by A. Miller and J. Biagi; and "Teucrium in the Arabian Peninsula and Socotra" by R. King. This latter confirms our own findings that only Teucrium stocksianum subsp. stocksianum is to be found within the territorial limits of the UAE and Northern Oman.

1988 also saw a couple of botanical articles in the Bulletin, with Marijcke Jongbloed's records and memories of an Easter collecting trip in Bulletin No. 35, and the Recorder's description of plant adaptations in a desert environment in the following issue. There were also passing references to some species in Peter Hellyer's article on the Wetlands Reserve in Bulletin No. 35.

On a more parochial note, the prickly weed Alhagi maurorum turned up on Das Island for the first time in 1988 and seeds collected. This plant is common in Abu Dhabi town and is at present in a dormant state, but in summer it flourishes alongside roadsides and on waste ground with Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum masses of rich red papilionate flowers. Das also remains the only Group-recorded UAE locality for , with its attractive white flowers and red-green stems. 1988 was particularly good year for this low annual.

Rob Western


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