Endemic Plant Species Of Mauritius: A Subject Of Chemotaxonomic Research.
(Author: Mr. Neil Lai Fang)

Mauritius is known to possess one of the most diverse floras in the world. The flora is composed of over 700 species of indigenous plants of which about 300 (about 60%) are endemic (Guého 1988). With such a diverse flora, coupled with a high proportion of endemism, the islandís vegetation offers much scope for taxonomic and phylogenetic studies. The taxonomy of the endemic Mauritian flora has so far been exclusively based on traditional morphological features. Though traditional morphological taxonomy has brought fundamental evidence for our flora, much work remains to be done and further evidence about the systematics of our indigenous plants species is always welcome. Many taxa still remain problematic with cases of heterophylly, heteroblasty, hybridization, and with natural morphological similarities. Nowadays, new and useful techniques exist that can complement morphological data to improve systematics of plants. These include cytology, molecular genetics, palynology, and the hybrid science of chemotaxonomy which incorporates the principles and procedures involved in the use of chemical evidence for classificatory purposes. We at the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Mauritius, are aware of the wealth that our endemic flora represent and we are currently working on the chemotaxonomy of endemic taxa of our flora, notably species from the Myrtaceae family, to provide additional evidence about the taxonomy and evolution of these species. We believe that good taxonomy will definitely help for a better conservation management of these species which are in many cases threatened or endangered, and for a more efficient approach to the potential use of our endemic plants for medicinal purposes.

  January 2001

Neil Lai Fang
(M.Phil., Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius)

GUEHO, J. 1988. La Végétation de Líile Maurice. Editions de LíOcean Indien.