African digital plant records

Creating a digital checklist of wild plants from Sudan. This project is the first formal collaboration between Kew and a Sudanese institution in recent times.

Partners

  • University of Khartoum
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Aims

  • To compile a checklist of the indigenous and naturalised plants of Sudan and to assess their conservation status.

Project details

About botanical records in Sudan
Sudan is one of the most poorly known African countries in botanical terms. The most recent account of its wild plants is that of F.W. Andrews The Flowering Plants of the (Anglo-Aegyptian) Sudan written between 1950–56.

Many additions to the flora have come to light since then. For example, Andrews recorded only 97 species in the Acanthaceae family in Sudan, whilst the amended list compiled through this project records 146 species.

Essential baseline for future work
This project will provide an essential baseline reference for future botanical and conservation work in Sudan, and will hopefully be the first stage in a longer-term collaboration between the two institutions.

Initial phase of work: plant checklist and training
A provisional checklist for the majority of plant families was compiled through a combination of literature and collections based study.

Colleagues at Kew provided training at the University of Khartoum in curation and databasing of herbarium collections, on-line sources of botanical and geographical information and producing species-based conservation assessments.

An internship at RBG Kew
Dr Maha Kordofani, curator of the herbarium at the University of Khartoum, completed a month-long internship at the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens in May 2009.

Future collaborations
Futher work by Dr Maha Kordofani will include:

  • Adding to the provisional checklist through reference to the extensive recent plant collections housed at the herbarium in Khartoum and additional literature searches
  • Returning to Kew in October 2009 to compile the database and begin to build up the plant specimen data, used for the species conservation assessments

Image:
Dr Kordofani and Dr Iain Darbyshire (RBG Kew) studying one of only two known specimens of the Sudanese endemic Peristrophe lanceolata housed in the herbarium at Kew.

Dr Kordofani and Dr Iain Darbyshire (RBG Kew) studying specimen at Kew