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Flora of China – a glimpse of the future

December 15, 2010

It is very tricky to identify plants in Thailand due to the great number of species (many never described) and due to difficulties in finding literature. The Flora of Thailand project began in 1970, but about half of the plants, 6000 species, are still not treated due to the difficulties. The volumes published are most useful though, and can be purchased at Dokmai Garden and recently also at the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden (same price, no profit).

An alternative to Flora of Thailand is the electronical Flora of China. The southern tip of Yunnan province (China) hosts many species also found here in Chiang Mai (Thailand), and the eFlora usually includes information about distribution in neighbouring countries.

I found the eFlora of China most useful when identifying the dangerous plant which I blogged about earlier.

Today you need a huge basket to carry all volumes of Flora of Thailand to the car, and inside the jungle you can not bring the basket, it is way too heavy. You have to do the first ID back at the car. In the future I hope Flora of Thailand will be available online too. Then we could probably use a cell phone to get a preliminary ID at the spot in the jungle, while the plant is still fresh. Quite often when you come home with pictures and try to identify a plant, the key will ask for characters you did not pay attention to in the jungle.

By displaying the plants along with names and/or guides, Dokmai Garden will keep bridging the technical language of the academic world with gardeners and nature lovers in general. Thereby we can aid in consolidating a wider botanical knowledge in Thailand, resulting in awareness of endangered species, medicinal plants and ornamentals. Today, most home owners dismiss the original vegetation as ‘shrubs’ and wipe them out, replacing them with colourful  South American ornamental plants.

Eric Danell

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One Comment leave one →
  1. tomo permalink
    December 15, 2010 11:03 AM

    really? i should really consider retiring in thailand botanizing and describing plants then. isn’t it amazing that such beautiful culture and climate do not entice enough botanists to live and do the work they love most.

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