Plant Biodiversity of South-Western Morocco

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The site presents especially the vascular plants of the South-Western Morocco where since 1971 a lot of scientific missions were carried out. The recording of biocenoses of the South Western Morocco has been the subject of numerous publications over the past years (Peltier, 1982; El Aboudi 1990 and 2000; F. Msanda 1993 and 2004). The site primarily relates to the following geographical divisions of Morocco: Atlantic Morocco (Abda/Haha, Souss), High Atlas (Ida-ou-Tanane), Anti-Atlas (Western Anti-Atlas, Kest and central Anti-Atlas) and Saharan Morocco (Western desert and the Sahara).

The plant biodiversity of the South Western Morocco reflects the biogeographic heterogeneity where mediterranean, tropical, succulent and endemic taxa coexist. The argan tree [Argania spinosa (L.) Skeels (Sapotaceae)] is an endemic of south western Morocco appreciated for its edible, high nutritional oil, extracted from the kernels of the drupe-like fruit. Argan forests cover about 800,000 hectares of calcareous arid or semiarid land bounded by mountains (Atlas and Anti-Atlas mountains), the Atlantic Ocean and the Sahara. The argan tree is widely distributed from Safi (North) to the Drâa River (South) and isolated populations extend as far as Tindouf, well inside the Western Sahara. The altitudinal range of the argan tree extends from sea level up to 1,300-1,500 m. The climate of the argan tree zone benefits from more temperate oceanic influences with annual precipitations between 150-400 mm and frequent fog throughout the year.

The biodiversity of South Western Morocco is presently under pressure from man and his cattle. The original argan forest covered about 1,400,000 hectares but the action of man has reduced this area by half, with argan trees often scattered as small clumps or single trees.

The scientific nomenclature is borrowed from the most recent publications or failing that it follows the Catalogue of the Plants of Morocco of E. Jahandiez and R. Maire (1931 to 1934) and his supplement by L. Emberger and R. Maire (1941); the most well-known synonyms are also indicated.

The scientific names of the families are those retained by The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG III, 2009An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 161, 105-121.). The photographs are possibly accompanied by a comment of a taxinomic, ecological or biogeographic nature.

The purpose of this site is simply to know the plant species in the region, including many endemic species which are among the region’s imperiled species.

Jean-Paul Peltier

Last modified at: 09/19/2012 11:20 am