Oman Flora history

From (Indigenous Flora, Plants of Oman (Shahina A. Ghazanfar, 2008))

"For nearly two and a half millennia Al Jazirat Al Arabiyah (the Island of the Arabs) has attracted botanists, naturalists and travellers from far and wide. The interest began as early as 420 BC, when frankincense was traded from Dhofar to Egypt and through to Europe. Later on botanical observations were made by Arab explorers of the 9§ to the 14th centuries, noteworthy amongst them being Ash Sharif Al Idrisi (1100–1165/66), Abbas Annabati (c.1216) and Ibn Baithar (d.1248 AD), as well as Ibn Battuta (1304–1368/9), who visited the eastern coast of Oman. The only professional plant collector to visit Oman in the 19th century (in 1838) was P.R.M. Aucher-Eloy, a Frenchman, who collected over 250 species from northern Oman of which many were new to science, and it was through his collections from Egypt to Iran, that the first account of plants of the ‘Orient’ was written. Aucher-Eloy wrote. ‘... to sum up, I have not collected more than 250 species over the whole of the Immamat of Muscat. The local people say that very shortly after the rains (which occur once or twice a year) the land is covered with flowers. In any case I am convinced that in this country, the most barren in the world, it would be difficult to find more than 500 species.’ He was not far wrong from the c.600 species found in the northern mountains and foothills. In all 1206 species have been recorded so far from the Sultanate of Oman, about 800 are found in Dhofar and less than 200 in the central gravel desert".

Then the plant collecting in Oman get on in 1894  by Theodore Bent and his wife Mable. After that, in 1975 A flora and fauna survey sponsored by the Oman Government was carried out in the north of the country, and in 1977 the similar survey was taking in the south of the country. Since 1977 communications have improved dramatically and the plants have now been collected in most parts of Oman.

In 1982, the Ministry of Heritage and Culture had established the National Herbarium in the Natural History Museum with a gift of 800 named specimens to preserve the Omani plants . Today the National Herbarium holding  more than 14000 specimens  are preserved for study and for future archive.
It is growing in size; repute and usefulness,  the collection contain specimens  date from 1943 but the oldest  since 1863. Available for study a collection of ferns and marine algae (seaweed's), and the nuclei of collections of aquatic algae, mosses, fungi, lichens and seeds. More than 115 plant families, 615 genera and 1300 species are represented in this Herbarium.  The herbarium received international recognition and the award of the acronym "ON".

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith