In October 1964 one of us, S.M.H., took up the position of lecturer in Biology in the Royal University of Malta. On returning to England that Christmas she discussed with P.D.S. (who had collected plants in Malta in 1957) the difficulty in taking students into the field without an up-to-date Flora, and the possibility of producing a new one. The last complete Flora of the Islands was by Professor John Borg in 1927. It was scarce, and had one great deficiency for the field botanist, a lack of keys. It was decided that a complete full-scale revision of the Flora was an impossibility, as nobody had the time to carry it out, but that a compilation of what was already known was a possibility, especially if the descriptions being published in Flora Europaea could be made a basis for the work.
On her return to Malta, S.M.H. began extracting records from the relevant literature of plants found in the Islands and also descriptions of those species from the parts of Flora Europaea already available. In this work, carried out in Malta, she was greatly encouraged by Professor Henry Micallef who was instrumental in obtaining grants from the University to employ help in extracting the records, typing the manuscript and collecting fresh material in the field. This work as far as it was possible had been completed when she left Malta in December 1967. She has returned to Malta on occasions since for further field work.
In the Spring of 1966, P.A.W. became interested in the work and agreed to illustrate the book with one species of each genus, and this task, with a few exceptions, has been carried out. The majority of the plants are drawn from fresh material gathered in Malta, the remainder from a combination of previously published illustrations and herbarium specimens. Other Malta plants are illustrated by Lanfranco (1969) and most of the remainder by Fiori and Paoletti (1933). On the completion of her term as lecturer in December 1967 S.M.H was replaced by P.A.W. who took up the post for two terms. P.A.W. has returned to Malta for substantial periods to illustrate plants and do field work every year since. As more accounts of Flora Europaea became available she also took on the work of extracting further descriptions and keys so that during 1971 the account was complete from the ferns to the Dipsacaceae.
As P.D.S. was writing much of the account of Compositae for Flora Europaea he has dealt with this family for A Flora of the Maltese Islands at the same time. He is much indebted to other Flora Europaea contributors to this large and difficult family for allowing him to consult their manuscripts, often in a provisional stage, and for advice given verbatim.
The Monocotyledons, for which in most cases there was no recent revision on a European scale, posed a considerable problem. Fortunately, Martyn Rix, who was doing research on Fritillaria at Cambridge, took on and completed these in 1971 with the exception of the Cyperaceae and Gramineae. The Gramineae have been prepared by P.A.W. under the direction of Dr A. Melderis of the British Museum of Natural History who has also contributed the Gentianaceae in the Dicotyledons. P.A.W. has prepared the Cyperaceae.
The ecological part of the introduction is original material and has been prepared by S.M.H. and P.A.W. from their fieldwork on the Islands. As fruit trees play such an important part in the landscape of the Islands we are very lucky to be able to include a chapter on their cultivation by Joe Borg who has made the trees of the Islands his particular study. At an early stage Henry Micallef had promised an article on the medicinal plants of Malta, but his untimely death occurred before he had completed it. By the permission of this widow and of the Malta Union of Pharmacists we have however been able to include an extract from an already published paper on the subject.
P.D.S. has throughout acted as general editor so as to obtain as much continuity of style as possible. He has also where necessary made nomenclatural and taxonomic decisions, some of which (in those groups not yet written for Flora Europaea) have had to be made without satisfactory revision.
When it comes to expressing our gratitude for all the help and encouragement we have received during the preparation of the book, it is difficult to know where to begin and where to end.
First and foremost we are grateful to the Editorial Committee of Flora Europaea and the Cambridge University Press for permission to reproduce the descriptions of taxa published in that work. Without that permission the project would never have got off the ground.
A FLORA OF THE MALTESE ISLANDS - STILL THE ONLY MALTA FLORA
History of the Study of the Flora
Geological and Ecological Areas and their types of vegetation
Geographical Relationship of the Maltese Flora
Fruit Tree Growing in Malta and Gozo by Joe Borg
Medicinal Plants in Malta by H. Micallef
Conservation of the Flora
Explanation of Test
Key to the Families
Account of the Species
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