Libyan cultivated plants (Hammer et al., 1988)

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Libyan cultivated plants (Hammer, Lehmann & Perrino, 1988)
Libyan cultivated plants (Hammer et al., 1988)
A (Inventory)


Hammer, Karl, Lehmann, Christian & Perrino, Pietro, 1988. A check-list of the Libyan cultivated plants including an inventory of the germplasm collected in the years 1981, 1982 and 1983. Kulturpflanze, 36: 475-527.


Based on literature sources and own explorations in 1981, 1982 and 1983 a checklist of the Libyan cultivated plants was compiled. Altogether 279 species and several infraspecific taxa could be listed. For each species a concise synonymy, the Libyan name, use and distribution patterns in Libya are given. A rich germplasm including 49 species has been collected and an inventory of these plant genetic resources which are valuable for breeding programs is presented. The check-list provides a useful tool for further explorations of plant genetic resources in Libya.


The study of cultivated plants in Libya has a long tradition. Results from this field together with own experiences based on three collecting missions provide the opportunity to compile a check-list for this country.

Check-lists of cultivated plants turned out to be useful as a tool for collecting plant genetic resources (BAIK et al. 1986). They allow to estimate the amount of cultivated plants which constitute the most important part of the germplasm in a given area and are in many respects helpful for the collector in the field.


In the check-list the alphabetical order of the botanical names is followed. Some important synonyms often used in the connection with Libyan plants are cited. For a more complete synonymy see SCHULTZE-MOTEL (1986). In some cases important synonyms are included into the alphabetical listing referring to their correct names. The check-list also includes the local names, remarks on the use of the plants, their distribution, the collection numbers and sites, when acces-


sions have been collected during our explorations, and sorne important literature citations.

Species printed in bold face have or had a greater importance for the country. Especially these species should be considered as plant genetic resources. They usually show a wide variation. Names in brackets indicate that the occurrence of this species is doubtful for Libya.

Libyan plant names

The Libyan plant names have been taken from different literature sources and from our own investigations. It was not possible to present the names in a standardized form. An index of Libyan plant names in alphabetical order is given on page 520.


The distribution is indicated for rather comprehensive areas:

  • T. = Tripolitania
  • C. = Cyrenaica
  • F. = Fezzan, inclucling Ghadamis region
  • K. = Kufra

Our knowledge concerning C., T. and F. is based on own experiences as well as on several items from literature (e.g. MATHIEU 1963, SUTER 1964, ERGENZINGER 1969, HILAL 1969, CHIAUZZI 1972). On the other band, K. is not very well known. The most comprehensive information is provided by ASCHERSON (1881). Some additional items can be found in KEITH (1965), who made use of the Report of the Cambridge University Expedition in 1963, and in HAJJAJI (1974).

The areas are given in the order of their importance.

Literature sources

A first compilation of the Libyan cultivated plants is given by ASCHERSON (1881). When presenting the material collected by ROHLFS (1881) he considered also the books written by DELLA CELLA (1819), LYON (1821) -with an extensive list of cultivated plants of the Fezzan-, DENHAM and CLAPPERTON (1826), RICHARDSON (1848), BARTH (1857), VOGEL (1860), DUVEYRIER (1864), ROHLFS (1874) and NACHTIGAL (1879) -with many botanical items.

Another compilation was made by TROTTER (1915). He could add several new species. The most important literature covered by him which appeared after ASCHERSON (1881) included LETOURNEUX (1889), VISCHER (1910) and NANNIZZI (1913).

Within his "Preliminary check list of Libyan flora" KEITH (1965) also summarized data about cultivated plants and drew information from CORTI (1942), DESIO (1942), LETHIELLEUX (1948), BROC (1954) and URANO (1958). KEITH


includes also comprehensive information about material which has been introduced into agricultural stations.

Some information for our compilation has been also drawn from relevant floras, e.g. "Flora of Libya" (see QUAISER and GHAFOOR 1979).

Plant genetic resources

Within the Mediterranean Programme of the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources collections of Libyan germplasm for preservation in gene banks started in 1978 with forage legumes (GINTZBURGER 1978, 1980, GINTZBURGER and BLESING 1979). Earlier collections (e.g. AL-JIBOURI 1966a) gave


some input to breeding programs within the country (AQUITEEN 1985) but could not be preserved. Further activities of the Mediterranean Programme included multi-crop missions in 1981 (AL ALAZZEH et al. 1982a and b), 1982 (LEHMANN and HAMMER 1983a and b) and 1983 (PERRINO et al. 1984a and b) which have been performed (figs. 1-4) in cooperation between the Agricultural Research Centre of Libya, the Istituto del Germoplasma (Bari) and the Zentralinstitut für Genetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung (Gatersleben). A first check-list about the cultivated plants of the Ghat oases comprising 58 species appeared in 1985 (HAMMER and PERRINO 1985). After characterization and preliminary evaluations of the material collected during these missions an updated checklist was necessary, including also the material collected for preservation. If possible, the geographical names of the collecting places have been written according to the "National Atlas of the Socialist People's Libyan Jamahiriya", Tripoli 1978.


Final remarks

Altogether the list contains 279 species and several infraspecific taxa. 130 of these species have or had a greater importance in Libya. This group is considered as the most interesting part of the plant genetic resources and it should be noted that most of the 49 species covered by our collecting program belong to it. Some crops as fruit trees and fodder plants could not be included into our collections. For the fodder crops this gap is partly filled by the exploration of GINTZBURGER (1978). Evident are also area-specific lacks, e.g. the Kufra oases. Though


our missions have covered important areas and useful germplasm could be collected, it seems necessary to continue the exploration because of the great value of the plant genetic resources of Libya. The most interesting items up to now known are elements of stress-resistance (drought- and salt-resistance in barley and wheat), disease-resistance (rust-resistance in soft and hard wheat, resistance against powdery mildew and netblotch in barley. - AL JIBOURI 1966a) and special physiological characteristics (e.g. early maturity in wheat and barley). The check-list provides a useful basis and at the same time a good tool for future explorations of plant genetic resources in Libya. The material collected is now in the state of further evaluation. It is preserved for future use in plant breeding in the participating gene banks.