Flora of Aden. Records of the Botanical Survey of India, Volume VII, Number 1


Flora of Aden is a botanical catalog of plants found in Aden and vicinity at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. The work appeared in three issues in 1914‒16. Despite never having traveled to the region, Father Ethelbert Blatter was able to add 250 plants to the literature of the region’s known species. He relied on various herbaria and travel accounts, beginning with those by Henry Salt (1780‒1827). Each plant is described in detail with its physical description, Latin and local names, location, growing season, and other available information. It is interesting to note that the descriptions rarely cite medicinal or culinary uses. There are colorful comments on the circumstance of reported finds, such as “Marchesetti is the only botanist who reported this species from Aden, and we have included it on his authority…we are perhaps allowed to doubt the actual occurrence of Cl. droserifolia at Aden.” Ethelbert Blatter (1877‒1934) was a Swiss Jesuit priest and pioneering botanist in India. He left his native land to study in Germany and the Netherlands, and later for theological studies in England. In 1903, he moved to Mumbai (Bombay), India, to teach at Saint Xavier College and engage in the botanical research and publishing that occupied him for the remainder of his life. Although his main contributions were in British India, his books on the plants of Aden and Arabia are also important contributions to botanical literature. Flora of Aden comprises volume VII of the Records of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI or the Survey). The BSI was established in 1890 for the purpose of identifying the plants of India and their economic value. European interest in the flora of India dates to the earliest days of exploration and colonial expansion. Beginning in the 16th century, the Portuguese, Dutch, and British collected and studied native plants. As the lands under control of the British East India Company grew in extent, so too did the study of plant life in the north and northwest of the Indian subcontinent. Economic and imperial expansion extended the surveys beyond the borders of British India to Myanmar (Burma) and the Arabian Peninsula.

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Government Printing Office, Calcutta


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79 pages : map ; 24 centimeters


  1. Government of India, Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, “Botanical Survey of India, Brief History.” http://bsi.gov.in/content/3_1_BriefHistory.aspx.
  2. Agustin Udias, Jesuit Contribution to Science: A History (Heidelberg: Springer, 2015).

Last updated: February 17, 2016