Endemic Plant Species Of Mauritius:
A Subject Of Chemotaxonomic Research.
(Author: Mr. Neil Lai Fang)
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.
GUEHO, J. 1988. La Végétation de Líile Maurice. Editions de LíOcean Indien.