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Plant museum opened at Karachi University

Karachi, June 6(The News): Herbarium is a dried plant museum in the University of Karachi (KU) which has opened new dimensions in the study of Botany by collecting specimens of more than 150,000 dried plants and compiling a directory on flora from around Pakistan and abroad.

The plants are continuously collected in the Herbarium and studied. It has been observed that some plants showed different characteristic after a period of 50 or more years, for instance a plant, may begin its flowering process in March this year, but half a century later this same species may commence its flowering process in January, this shows that a variation in climatic changes has altered the flowering and other processes of the plant.

The information is useful to researchers, town planners, environmentalists and students in calculating climatic changes and in planning new towns after considering the detailed studies and the knowledge gleaned from plants of different species from time to time.

Prof. Pirzada Qasim, the Vice Chancellor of KU had laid the foundation stone of this Herbarium, a two-storey building on a covered area of 10,000 square feet, in 2005.

The Department of Botany is also preparing a 'Data List' of more

than 300 to 400 plants found in Chitral to preserve their floral identity in the country.

Approximately, 500 plant species abundantly grow in Pakistan, with a majority of these found in Chitral.

Dr Mohammad Qaisar, former Dean Faculty of Science and incumbent Director of Herbarium said that the objective of preparing the "Red Data List" was to provide guidelines for further conservation and research.

"Pakistan is the only country in the region where scientists and researchers have obtained information about the country's floral resources and prepared valuable documentation. While Japanese researchers have prepared documentation on Afghan flora and the British on India and Nepal, the Americans provided their services to China and the Europeans worked with Iran in this regard," he claimed.

He said that four plants, namely Abitinlon Alii, Sepalum, Asparagus and Acacia nilotica SubSP Hemispheric, are abundant in Karachi. He said that Acacia nilotica SubSP Hemispheric plant is found along the coastline of the city, but this plant is fast becoming extinct due to oversight and development work at some specific coastal sites of the city.

The Flora of Pakistan is compiled by Dr Syed Irtifaq Ali and Dr Qaisar, and is available on the Internet with the active collaboration of the Missouri Botanic Garden, USA.
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