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5752 Plant Species Grow in Greece

First New Checklist in 100 Years - Completion of European Research Project

№ 374/2013 from Dec 03, 2013

According to an international study, Greece boasts the highest diversity of plant species anywhere in Europe. Over a three-year period, eight botanists from Greece, Germany, and Denmark determined that there are 5752 plant species and 1893 subspecies. For the first time in a century, the diversity of species has now been documented in a book. The monograph lists all the known plant species from the Cretan date palm to the Greek mullein that are native to the region or were naturalized there. It was published in English and is entitled Vascular Plants of Greece: An Annotated Checklist. The Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem of Freie Universität Berlin was very involved in the research project and co-edited the book along with the Hellenic Botanical Society in Greece.

The 372-page monograph is of great importance for botanists, vegetation specialists, ecologists, and nature conservation experts. The book will serve as a standard reference work for government agencies and NGOs working with the environment in Greece. Referring to the checklist will help amateur botanists to clarify their observations of nature.

In the book 216 color photographs on 24 plates illustrate selected plant species in the flowering or fruit-bearing state. Facts are presented in 15 graphics and 10 tables. You can find answers to questions such as: What are the 20 most species-rich plant families in Greece? Which region in Greece has the greatest plant diversity? How many plant species are found only in Greece and nowhere else in the world? Which plant genera do these rarities belong to?

The checklist contains the current state of knowledge about all the ferns and flowering plants of Greece. It includes information about where in Greece each species can be found as well as the distribution outside Greece. Thus it is easy to see at a glance whether the respective species is native to Greece or whether it was introduced, as well as whether it is a prevalent or limited species. The checklist also indicates whether the species is, for example, a tree, shrub, bulbous plant, or annual plant and whether it grows on the coast, in the forest, grasslands, mountains, in or on fresh water.

Greek Wealth: The World of Plants

Greece is a hotspot of biodiversity. From its 3000-meter-high mountains to many islands with a long history of isolation, Greece has extremely diverse habitats, each with a very different local climate. These conditions favored the formation of new species: the islands of the Aegean are virtually the field laboratory of evolution. Particularly remarkable is the high number of plant species that are found exclusively in Greece and nowhere else in the world, namely 1278 or one in five. As part of the research for the checklist, many plant species were identified for the first time in Greece. Since extensive botanical studies have been done in Greece for decades, no one expected that there was still so much to discover. What is still missing is a comprehensive, modern work that documents the current state of knowledge about the Greek plant world in minute detail and offers instructions for identifying the plants by means of identification keys and illustrations. The new checklist is an important first step. The checklist already serves as the basis for compiling a "Red List" of endangered plant species and thus a long-awaited tool for the protection of biodiversity in Greece.

The Checklist

The checklist brings together a vast body of information previously widely dispersed in various different publications. The last comparable work was a catalog of Greek flora "Conspectus Florae Graecae" compiled in 1900–1912 by Eugen von Halácsy. Since then the current state of knowledge has been changing constantly. To compile the modern checklist, the researchers checked through the complete historical and current literature, evaluated many thousands of herbarium specimens in scientific collections around the world, and integrated the latest molecular biological findings. In addition to herbaria in Greece, the herbarium at Berlin-Dahlem is a source of information of key scientific importance for the botanical exploration of Greece. For centuries it has been collecting plant specimens from the area of the eastern Mediterranean. The specimens were pressed, dried, and archived along with a precise documentation of the locality they were taken from. The work on the checklist required expeditions to Greece and research stays to study herbaria in many countries. The study of the flora of Greece has traditionally been a major area of research of the Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem. Through cooperation with the Hellenic Botanical Society and major universities and scientists in Greece, the three-year project has now been successfully drawn to a conclusion.


Dimopoulos, P., Raus, T., Bergmeier, E., Constantinidis, T., Iatrou, G., Kokkini, S., Strid, A. and Tzanoudakis, D. 2013, Vascular Plants of Greece: An Annotated Checklist. Eds.: Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem (Berlin) and Hellenic Botanical Society (Athens).

372 pages, English, ISBN: 978-3-921800-88-1, 42 euros

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Dr. Thomas Raus, Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum, Freie Universität Berlin, Königin-Luise-Str. 6-8, 14195 Berlin, Tel.: + 49 30 838 50128, Email: t.raus@bgbm.org, www.botanischer-garten-berlin.de

The Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem, Freie Universität Berlin, is a botanical collection and research institution with an educational mission. Founded in 1679, the facility is one of the largest and most important of its kind in the world. In the complex, 22,000 plant species are cultivated and extensive collections document global plant diversity. The protection of plants and the sustainable use of plants are central themes in the research as well as in the educational work of this institution. The research conducted at the institution focuses on the evolution and biodiversity of asters and clove-like flowering plants as well as diatoms (Asterales, Caryophyllales, Bacillariophyta) and the flora of Europe and the Mediterranean area as well as the island of Cuba. The institution is an international leader in the field of biodiversity informatics.