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International Symposium

Flora of Afghanistan

München, 07/24/2015

International specialists in plant systematics will gather in the Institute of Botany at LMU on July 31st to attend a symposium on the flowering plants of Afghanistan and neighboring regions.

Type specimen of Astragalus andersianus collected in Afghanistan. Picture: Bavarian State Botanical Collections

The accessions stored in the Herbarium at LMU include one of the most extensive and significant collections of flowering plants from Afghanistan held anywhere in the world. The challenges posed by the preparation of a digital catalog of the material in Munich, and of Afghan specimens in other European collections, will be discussed at an international symposium on “The Flora and Vegetation of Afghanistan and Adjacent Countries“, which will be held at LMU’s Institute of Botany on July 31st. The Symposium will also look at ways of intensifying cooperation between institutions and individuals interested in the field. The event is organized jointly by the Botanical Institute, the Bavarian State Botanical Collections and the Munich Botanic Garden. All three institutions are led by Professor Susanne Renner, who will also give the opening address at the Symposium.

From 1949 until the Soviet invasion in 1979, Afghan and German botanists worked in close collaboration to explore and map the flora of Afghanistan. The extensive collections of dried plants assembled during this period – amounting to some 70,000 specimens – now make up the core of the Afghanistan Section of the Munich Herbarium. These holdings are complemented by the 40,000 plants collected by LMU guest scientist Bernhard Dickoré, who has focused his activities on the Alpine flora of Central Asia – including the plants of the Tibetan Plateau, the Pamir and Karakorum Ranges and the Himalayas – and on several countries adjacent to Afghanistan. The richness and diversity of this combination of material makes the LMU collection a unique resource for further research on the plants and plant communities represented in Afghanistan. Moreover, the fruits of this research are not only of interest to plant taxonomists. They also form the basis for informed decision-making on issues relating to agricultural development and conservation.