The principal objective of this project has been to provide an inventory of all vascular plants in the flora of Mount Kinabalu. This volume 5 completes the inventory with an enumeration of the dicotyledons in families in alphabetical order from Magnoliaceae to Winteraceae. The other four volumes cover, respectively, the ferns and fern allies, orchids, gymnosperms and non-orchid monocotyledons, and dicotyledons in families Acanthaceae to Lythraceae.
The Kinabalu flora includes about 5,000 species of vascular plants, and is arguably one of the richest floras in the world on the basis of number of species on a per-unit-area basis. Additionally, Mount Kinabalu has been a centre of extremely active plant evolution and speciation and presents an outstanding natural laboratory for studying these processes.
This last volume in the series contains sections on historical aspects of plant collecting on Mount Kinabalu, a biographical sketch of Hugh Low, the first person to climb and collect plants on the mountain, a sketch likewise of Elmer Drew Merrill, who described more new species in the floras of Mount Kinabalu and Southeast Asia than any other person. Volume 5 is dedicated to these two individuals. Also included are analyses of the collections, a discussion of ecological associations, consideration of dicotyledon life forms, lists of cultivated and introduced dicotyledons, and an index to numbered collections. The main part of the book enumerates 66 families, 364 genera and 1399 species, subspecies and varieties in dicotyledon families Magnoliaceae to Winteraceae known in the Kinabalu flora. Information is provided for each species on literature, habit, habitat, elevation range, and specimens upon which the study is based. About 24,000 specimens representing this group of dicotyledons examined. These were collected over a period of 150 years (1851-2000) by about 300 naturalists, explorers, botanists and local people, and are the basis for virtually all the accumulated knowledge of the Mount Kinabalu flora. The book has involved the collaboration of 15 notes specialists in various plant groups.
The last comprehensive works on the Kinabalu flora were Otto Stapf ‘s monumental 1894 account, On The Flora of Mount Kinabalu, in North Borneo and Lilian Gibb’s 1914 work, A Contribution to the Flora and Plant Formations of Mount Kinabalu and the Highlands of British North Borneo. Stapf’s paper listed only 172 taxa in the families covered by this volume. Thus the present work includes an eight-fold increase in taxa since Stapf’s time, and has the advantage of being based on more than a century of advances methodology for conducting such a study.
The project has involved new and innovative procedures for carrying out floristic inventories, and is serving as a model for similar projects in other parts of the world. Specimens have been examined in some 30 different herbaria, including all relevant specimens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Natural History Museum, London, and National Herbarium of the Netherlands, Leiden Branch. Gibbs had about 360 collections available for the dicotyledons in this group in her account, and Stapf had only about 236. In contrast, the present study is based upon nearly 24,000 specimen over the 150 years since the Mount Kinabalu was first explored by Hugh Low in 1851.