This BioProvince (as defined by Armen Takhtajan) comprises the Maluku Islands (formerly the Moluccas) and Banda Islands. The main islands are Ambon, Buru, Seram and Halmahera, while the Banda Islands are ten small volcanic islands in the Banda Sea about 140 km south of Seram but still part of the Indonesian province of Maluku. The Maluku and Banda Islands are the famous Spice Islands once the only source of cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) and nutmeg (Myristica fragans). Altogether there are about a thousand islands totaling 74,504 square kms and all lie in a biogeographical region known as Wallacea (named after the naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace). It is situated between the Sunda Shelf (part of the Asia block) and the Arafura Shelf (part of the Australian block) and also encompasses Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi. The Sunda Shelf provides the bedrock of Sundaland (comprising the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, Java, and Bali) and the boundary between Sundaland and Wallacea is known as the Wallace Line. Here Wallace realized that the mammal and bird fauna on one side of this line were very different from the other side. In fact, Wallacea is a transition zone between Asiatic and Australian biotas, and represents a zone where two entirely different ecosystems were brought together through continental drift. Most of the islands are geologically young, ranging from 1 million to 15 million years old and lie within some of the World's deepest seas. The islands of the outer arcs consist chiefly of crystalline schists and limestones overlaid by Jurassic, Cretaceous and Tertiary deposits. Eruptive rocks of supposed Cretaceous age also occur in these outer islands, while Tertiary and recent volcanic lavas are confined to the innermost arc. Halmahera lies outside these arcs and consist chiefly of gabbro, peridotite, serpentine and other very basic eruptive rocks, which are believed to be of Cretaceous age. The climate is tropical with rainfall ranging from 2000 to 3800 mm per year. Not surprisingly the flora shows a marked similarity to those of New Guinea and Australia but also includes many endemic species and at least two endemic genera (Parakibara and Siphokentia).
The following accounts for this BioProvince have been written or will be written with particular reference to endemic and locally important species. Accounts available are displayed in green or yellow. Those displayed in red are either in the pipeline or awaiting expert contributions.
|Endemic Vascular Plant Flora|