Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: September 20, 2010
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The Sultanate of Oman occupies the south-eastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula and has a total area of 312,500 km**2. The country encompasses three physiographic regions: (1) the coastal plain, the most important parts of which are the Batinah Plain in the north, which is the principal agricultural area, and the Salalah Plain in the south, (2) the mountain range, which occupies 15% of the total area of the country and reaches more than 3,000 meters above sea level, and (3) the interior, which consists of several plains with elevations not exceeding 500 m. The climate is hot and humid during summer in the coastal areas and hot and dry in the interior regions with the exception of some higher lands and the southern Dhofar region, where the climate remains moderate throughout the year. The large variation in physiography and climate contributed to the emergence and helped maintain tremendously diverse plant communities in Oman. In addition, traditional farming practices in the main agricultural regions and for thousands of years impacted and have been influenced by natural or unmanaged plant communities, including weeds. Although the flora of Oman is under exploited, it has received increased attention during the last three decades, and a number of manuscripts and checklists have been published. The rich and diverse natural plant communities, some of which are endemic, while others were introduced over thousands of years of plant introduction and migration, ranked the Sultanate among the top in the Arabian Peninsula in species richness. Out of approximately 1200 plant species documented in Oman, there are 7% classified as endemic, with Jabal Akhdar of the Hajar Mountains in northern Oman hosting about one third of the country’s plant species. Two regions in central and northern Oman (Jiddat Al Harasees, and Hajar and Musandam Mountains) are considered as centers of diversity and endemism. The first harbors 200 and the second 600 plant species, with 6 and 5% of these species considered endemic, respectively. On the other hand, a total of 194 crop plant species of 133 genera and 53 families have been documented and constitute the basis for an emerging agricultural economy with integrated crop production and animal husbandry components. This volume on "Weeds of Northern and Central Oman" by Drs. Al-Maskri and Hameed, is a timely addition to the body of information necessary to understanding weed distribution, and weed identification and control under the arid climate of Oman, and will enable farmers to prepare appropriate strategies to manage and control them. Obviously, indigenous knowledge helped identify certain wild plant species (including weeds) as having valuable ecological, economic or medicinal value. This publication is a first comprehensive attempt at bringing together a wide range of information from indigenous knowledge, ethno-botanical, ecological, and economic sources on the weeds of Oman in one volume. The volume is arranged in alphabetical order by family name, followed by a comprehensive bibliography, and finally by a glossary of botanical and medicinal names. A valuable component of this publication is the colored plant images and hand illustrations of several plant parts, especially inflorescences, flowers, fruits and seeds. The authors managed to compile comprehensive information of great value to students of botany, ethnobotany, allelopathy, and pharmacognosy. Some of the plants featured in this volume, although referred to as weeds, have great potential as medicinal, dye, perfume, cosmetic, and fodder sources. Finally, the information will help agronomists and weed scientists develop new, environmentally-friendly, and effective weed management practices, especially under the traditional and organic cropping systems of Oman.