Al Ain : The UAEU Herbarium is working on several important projects that keep pace with technological development, especially in the use of artificial intelligence applications. A specialized team is digitizing the herbarium and conducting a comprehensive survey of all samples in preparation for the launch of a special application to define the plants of the United Arab Emirates.
Dr. Khalid Al Amiri, Head of Department of Biology and Director of Khalifa Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, explained: “The UAEU herbarium is the first herbarium in the UAE and is registered in the Index Herbarium (NYBG) as the oldest and largest herbarium in the country. The herbarium includes about 19,000 dried plant samples in their scientific names.”, with information representing 630 species of wild plants that have been recorded in the environments in the country such as deserts, mountains, valleys or plains. It also included 79 plant families, the largest of which is the Gramineae that contains 82 species, and the compositae family that contains 53 species.
Dr. Khaled Al Amiri added: “The herbarium provides many services, the most important of which is the identification and classification of wild plants and weeds associated with agricultural crops and providing researchers and students with information and data about wild plants in the United Arab Emirates including descriptions, locations, densities, flowering and fruiting periods. Besides, the faculty members can use the Herbarium to give lectures to students in the field of plant taxonomy and flora, train students on preparing, defining and classifying plant samples, dissect different plant parts, and conduct scientific trips with researchers and students to collect plant and wild samples.
The herbarium includes a large group of dried plant samples that vary greatly in economic importance, some of which are used pastorally to feed animals, such as (Chloris, Cynodon, Acalypha Hispida, Panicum, Aster) and some are used as food or medicine for humans.
The Herbarium issued the Flora of the United Arab Emirates book in 2007. The book, which includes two parts, presents an extensive study on the classification of wild plants and weeds associated with agricultural crops. The book is considered a guide to identifying about 630 species whose existence has been recorded within the country.
The Flora of the United Arab Emirates book is a scientific botanical encyclopedia. The first part includes a complete description of about 250 plants under 40 plant families, in addition to providing more than a hundred color pictures and 184 illustrations of plants. The second part contains a complete description of about 350 plants under 39 families, providing about 123 pictures and 199 illustrations.