Original paper

Current knowledge of Umbelliferae in the Arabian Peninsula preparation for a floristic treatment

Knees, Sabina; Miller, Anthony; Alfarhan, Ahmed; Watson, Mark


The Flora of the Arabian Peninsula and Socotra includes all native, cultivated and amenity plants occurring in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. The topography is diverse with vast sand and rock deserts and mountains reaching over 3000m in the SW of the Peninsula, but there are no permanent rivers. Biogeographically, the Arabian Peninsula represents a crossroads and the species composition is a mix of Holarctic and Palaeotropical elements. The distribution of species in Umbelliferae within the Flora area reflects this pattern and includes a mixture of national and regional endemics, as well as widespread species and a number of cosmopolitan weeds. Three main phytogeographical areas are represented in the Peninsula: the Saharo-Sindian Regional Zone, the Somalia-Masai Regional Centre of Endemism and the Afromontane Archipelago-like Regional Centre of Endemism. Genera of Umbelliferae can be found in all three areas. Floristic elements from surrounding phytochoria also extend into Arabia, with enclaves of Mediterranean species, for example, Bupleurum gerardii All. and Deverra tortuosa (Desf.)DC. in western Saudi Arabia. Similarly, Irano-Turanian elements occur in northern Oman, including for example, Pycnocycla aucheriana Decne. At present we recognise about 82 species in 38 genera in the area covered by the Flora. Provisional conservation assessments have been made for most species according to criteria established by IUCN (2001), though not all are published. Research is ongoing and the most critical genera identified are Ferula, Pimpinella and Pycnocycla. Recent exploration and research on Socotra, culminating in the publication of the Ethnoflora of the Soqotra Archipelago in 2004, has resulted in the discovery and description of new taxa including Rughidia milleri M.F.Watson & E.L.Barclay and Oreofraga morrisiana M.F.Watson & E.L.Barclay.


umbelliferaearabian peninsulasoqotraiucn assessments