Bulletin 40 - March 1990: Botany Recorder's Report for 1989

Botany Recorder's Report for 1989

The major achievement of the year was the eventual publication of The Flora of the United Arab Emirates: An Introduction. After three years of frustrated attempts searching for an overseas publisher, the author approached the Group's then new patron in 1988, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan immediately ordered publication through the UAE University. It is hoped that this guide will prove useful not only to budding (sic) botanists in the University at Al Ain but also to ENHG members on their travels. As you are by now aware, the book does not cover all species found in the Emirates, and is intended partly to complement guides which have been published in surrounding countries, several of which can be consulted in the Group's library. Incidentally, the next regional book to be published, in the spring of 1990, will be Jim Mandaville's guide to the flora of the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia.

The only collecting carried out by the Recorder during the year was a day trip to the Mahdah-Aboul area with Bish Brown - February and March are often too cold, and by mid-May many of the annuals have come and gone. Two localities were sampled, the first and abundant for an open area, with a total of 51 species being recorded in an area of approximately 100 by 100 meters. Two species new to our records were collected. The first is a striking species of the Luguminosae, or Pea family, Pseudolotus makranikus, with multi-colored petals on stems creeping over the gravel; the second is Anticharis glutinosa, a small member of the Scrophulariaceae and much less common in this area.

At Aboul Oasis, a little further into the hills, the lovely orchid Epipactis veratrifolia was found to be thriving at several points in and around the wadi.

One interesting species collected on the same trip was a daisy type with large leaves and masses of brilliant yellow flowers, so striking that we wondered why we had not recorded it before. Edinburgh Botanic Garden recorded it as Iphiona aucheri: let's hope 1990 sees it expanding its range as it really is an impressive shrub and native to this part of the peninsula.

There is ongoing need for an Abu Dhabi-based Recorder and we are looking for somebody in the Group willing to take on this exciting activity. A lot of the groundwork has been done. As the University becomes more actively involved in the local environment, the information over the years that the ENHG can provide will be invaluable to future generations of researchers. It is vitally important that the native flora is fully recorded and mapped while the hinterland of the UAE is only partially disturbed by development and by the introduction of alien species either for amenity purposes or accidentally through fertilizers.

Rob Western


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