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The primary objective of this project is to provide an inventory of all vascular plants in the flora, covering the ferns, fern allies, orchids, and gymnosperms and non-orchid monocotyledons, already have been published. The Plants of Mount Kinabalu, 4 enumerates the dicotyledon families Acanthaceae to Lythraceae, roughly half of this major group. A final volume on the dicotyledons is expected to be completed in about three years.
The Kinabalu flora includes over 5000 species of vascular plants, and is one of the most diverse if not the most diverse flora in the world. Additionally, Mount Kinabalu has been a centre of extremely active plants evolution and speciation and presents a spectacular natural laboratory for studying these processes.
This fourth volume in the series contains sections on the historical aspects of plant collecting on Mount Kinabalu, a biographical sketch of two of the most important collectors, Mary Strong and Joseph Clemens, to whom the book is dedicated, analysis of the collections, elevational distribution of the dicotyledons, a list of cultivated and introduced dicots, enumeration of the species, and indexes to numbered collections. Information is provided for each species on literature, habit, habitat, elevation range, and specimens upon which the study is based. These dicotyledons include 83 families, 430 genera and about 1575 species, subspecies and varieties. Almost 20,000 specimens were examined and recorded for the project. These were collected over a period of 150 years (1851-2000) by about 282 naturalists, explorers, botanists and local people, and are the basis for virtually all accumulated knowledge of the Mount Kinabalu flora. The book is particularly authoritative because of the collaboration of 25 noted specialists in various plants groups.
The last comprehensive works on the Kinabalu flora were O. Stapf’s monumental 1894 account, On the Flora of Mount Kinabalu, In North Borneo and L. S. Gibbs’s 1914 work, A Contribution to the Flora and Plant Formations of Mount Kinabalu and Highlands of British North Borneo. Stapf’s paper listed only 90 taxa in the families covered by this volume. Thus the present work includes a 17-fold increase in taxa since Stapf’s time, and has the advantage in knowledge of the flora and improvements in the scientific methodology for conducting such a study.
The project involves new and innovative procedures for conducting floristic inventories, and is serving as a model for similar projects in other parts of the world. Specimens have been examined in some 36 different herbaria, including all relevant specimens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Natural History Museum, London, and the National Herbarium of the Netherlands, Leiden Branch. Gibbs had about 229 collections available for the dicotyledons in this group in her account, and Stapf had only about 155. In contrast, the present study is based upon nearly 20,000 specimen records representing 12,125 collections accumulated over the 150 years since Mount Kinabalu was first explored by Hugh Low in 1851.