Floristic exploration in southeast Asia

Douglas C. Daly and collaborators

Some of the most important collections in The New York Botanical Garden herbarium are those from the Philippines that were made in the first part of the 20th Century by E. D. Merrill and A. D. E. Elmer, but in fact Garden researchers been active in tropical Asia continuously for the past several decades. Drs. Christine Padoch and Charles Peters studied natural resource management in East Kalimantan; palm specialist Dr. Andrew Henderson has traveled widely in the region, describing scores of new species; Drs. Peters and Henderson have deeply investigated the taxonomy and management of rattans; Dr. Dennis Stevenson has had productive collaborations with botanists in several Asian countries for the study of gymnosperms and cycads; and John Mitchell and I have worked on Burseraceae, Anacardiaceae and general flora in Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei. I obtained a grant from the JRS Biodiversity Foundation between 2013-2016 to help modernize Vietnam’s national herbarium in Hanoi and study the flora of Bach Ma National Park. I am also working with post-doctoral fellow Dr. Kate Armstrong, who is spearheading a long-term study of the flora of northern Myanmar.

Something we all have learned is that the Old World is definitely not old hat. There are many gaps in botanical exploration of tropical Asia, and many of its important plant families have been neglected for many decades. Many of us have found that our institutional collaborations and floristic investigations dovetail well with our taxonomic work.