The Plants of Oman - A Journey Completed

Thursday 12th Nov 2020, 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

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The Plants of Oman - A Journey Completed


Shahina A Ghazanfar is Honorary Research Associate at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and currently Editor of the Flora of Iraq. She has worked in the Sultanate of Oman at Sultan Qaboos University, Bayero University in West Africa, University of the South Pacific in Fiji and at the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council. She has made major contributions to the study of vegetation and floras of these countries. She joined Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK, in 2001, initially as co-editor for the Flora of Tropical East Africa, and then as Head of the Temperate Regional Team and Research Leader for Asia. For most of her career she has worked on the deserts of the Middle East and the plant diversity therein. She has expertise in the conservation, biogeography and plants of economic importance of the Middle East and in restoration of degraded lands.

Shahina has authored several books, written chapters in edited books, and written peer reviewed papers on the floras, vegetation, biogeography and medicinal plants of Arabia and the Middle East.

Her major contributions are as editor and author of reference books: Vegetation of the Arabian Peninsula (1998: Kluwer), Medicinal plants of the Arabian Peninsula (1994: CRC Press), Flora of the Sultanate of Oman (4 Vols 2003–-2017), Flora of Pakistan (1975­–2016), chapters in the series Sabkha Ecosystems (Vols 1–6) and Flora of Iraq. She regularly gives illustrated talks on floras and medicinal plants of the Middle East, and on conservation of plants and those that have historic and cultural significance. She is also consultant on restoration and use of native plants in horticulture and sustainable gardening.

Shahina holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK, and an MSc from Punjab University, Pakistan. She is a Fellow of the Linnaean Society, London.


When I came to Oman on appointment as lecturer at Sultan Qaboos University in 1987, I had very little to go on as far as the country’s flora was concerned. Taking my biology students on field excursions the information I could give them was limited. This inspired me to learn, document and describe all the plants of Oman. It took a good four years before I could put together an annotated checklist of the plants of Oman which was published in 1992. This checklist became the basis of the descriptive Flora of the Sultanate of Oman.

For the descriptive flora a lot more needed to be explored. The first volume was completed and published in 2003 after I’d left Oman and joined the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. The remaining volumes were published over several years: Vol 2 –2007, Vol 3 – 2015 and Vol 4 –2018 (Published by the National Botanic Garden Belgium). These 4 volumes of Flora of the Sultanate of Oman describe all the known plants of Oman. Each species is fully described with identification keys, flowering and fruiting times, where found, habitat and ecological notes, uses if any and conservation status. A distribution map is also provided for each species. Each volume is accompanied with a CD-ROM with photos of most of the species covered in that volume.

With taxonomic and nomenclature changes, new species and new distributions recorded for Oman since, Flora of the Sultanate of Oman needs updating. I am now completing a revised and updated annotated checklist in collaboration with the Oman Botanic Garden, incorporating new findings and information on plants of Oman. This would be available both as a hard copy and as an e-book, hopefully soon.