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History of plant collecting in Lao PDR

The flora of Lao PDR is one of the least known in Asia, though it was revised in the Flore générale de l’Indochine (Lecomte, 1907–1950) and is being revised again in the Flore du Cambodge, du Laos et du Viêtnam (Aubréville, 1960–present). The reason it is so poorly known is that very few people have spent time studying and collecting in Lao PDR with the result that there are very few herbarium specimens available.

Both the flora-writing projects just mentioned have treated Lao PDR together with its neighbours, Cambodia and Vietnam and the great majority of specimens cited in them are from Vietnam where botanical collecting has always been more intensive than in Lao PDR or Cambodia. Nowadays, responsibility for the conservation and management of biodiversity rests with national governments, however, so there is a great need for an overview of the plants of Lao PDR, separate from those of Cambodia and Vietnam. At its simplest, a list of the names of plants occurring in Lao PDR would be extremely valuable.

Prior to this publication, two checklists for the plants of Lao PDR have been published. The first, Noms vernaculaires de Plantes en Usage au Laos (Vidal 1959), listed more than 1000 species with their local names and uses. The second, the Checklist of Lao Plant Names (Callaghan 2004) lists more than 2000 taxa, including more than 300 cultivated and introduced plants. This second checklist is primarily based on Vidal’s work, the fascicles of the Flore du Cambodge, du Laos et du Viêtnam that have been published since 1960 and a range of unpublished field surveys. These checklists focus on useful plants and therefore only represent a limited section of the flora. The need to conserve and manage the flora at national level is now greater than ever so it is even more important to develop a National Checklist.

Callaghan, M. 2004. Checklist of Lao Plant Names. Private publication.
Inthakoun, L. & Delang, C. 2008. Lao Flora: a checklist of plants of Lao PDR. USA, Lulu Press.
Jin Hye-Young et al. (eds). 2016. A checklist of plants in Lao PDR. Korea National Herbarium.
Lamxay, V., Lanorsavanh, S., Chanthavong, K., Souvannakhoummane, K. & Bounphanmy, S. 2022. A checklist of the vascular plants of Lao PDR
Newman, M.F., Ketphanh, S., Svengsuksa, B., Thomas, P., Sengdala, K., Lamxay, V. & Armstrong, K.E. 2007. A checklist of the vascular plants of Lao PDR.
Vidal, J.E. 1959. Noms vernaculaires de Plantes en Usage au Laos. Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême-Orient 49(2): 435-608.