It gives me very great pleasure to present to you one of the great pillars of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Botany to whom the OPTIMA Gold Medal has been awarded – Emeritus Professor Loutfy Boulos.
Loutfy Boulos has had a remarkable and eventful career. In Cairo he has been a Research Worker, National Research Centre and Desert Institute (now the: Desert Research Centre), Botanist at the Herbarium, Ministry of Agriculture and then Head of Plant Taxonomy Unit; Associate Professor of Botany, Cairo University and Professor of Plant Taxonomy and Flora of Egypt, National Research Centre, Dokki.
He has also held a number of prestigious positions in other countries of North Africa and the Middle East:
- Assistant and then Associate Professor, Faculty of Science, University of Libya, Tripoli, Libya
- Professor of Plant Taxonomy and UNESCO Expert, University of Jordan, Amman
- Professor of Plant Taxonomy, Faculty of Science, Kuwait University
He was also Senior Botanist at the Department of Environmental Sciences and Plant Production, International Livestock Centre of Africa (ILCA), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and was a UNESCO Fellow, University of Montpellier, France from 1960–1963. He has been Emeritus Professor, Botany Department, Faculty of Science, Alexandria University, since February 2005.
Professor Boulos established the National Herbarium of Libya, the National Herbarium of Jordan and the National Herbarium of Kuwait which is a remarkable and unparalleled achievement. Since 1952 he has carried out extensive field work, mainly in Egypt, the Middle East and North Africa, including expeditions were to Gebel Uweinat in 1968, 1978 and 1996; to Gebel Elba in 1956, 1979 and 1998; to Nubia in 1963 and 1964, Jordan: 1973-1976; Qatar: 1977; Saudi Arabia: 1980; Bahrain: 1985; United Arab Emirates: 1985, 1986 and 1997; Yemen: 1987, 1988; Kuwait: 1973, 1984-1996, Egypt: (Gilf El-Kebir, Gebel Uweinat, Qattara Depression), 1996-1997, Syria: 1997 and 2001 Libya: 1966-1971; Tunisia: 1968; Morocco: 1961. He also collected plants in Canary Islands 1961, 1962; in Madeira: 1962; Cyprus: 1973; Ethiopia: 1976-1978; Kenya: 1977-1978; Mali: 1977; Sudan: 1982; Gaza Zone: 1955-1956, 1963; and Zimbabwe: 1996. He has described many new genera and species.
His publications comprise some 100 papers, chapters in books and 15 books, including:
Common weeds in Egypt.(1967). (with M.N. El-Hadidi).
Street trees in Egypt (1968). Reprinted 1970. Second ed. pages. (1979). Revised ed, (1988) (with M.N. El-Hadidi).
Supplementary Notes to Students' Flora of Egypt, second edition (1974). (with V. Täckholm).
Medicinal Plants of North Africa (1983).
The weed flora of Egypt (1985). Revised edition (1994). (with M.N. El-Hadidi).
The weed flora of Kuwait (1988).
Flora of Egypt Checklist (1995).
Flora of Egypt vol. 1 (1999), vol. 2 (2000), vol. 3 (2002), vol.4 (2005).
Plant diversity in Egypt (2007). (in Arabic, scientific names in Latin).
His field work, the large amount of material he collected and his publications gave him an unrivalled understanding of the plant life of the Middle East and North Africa and without these enormous contributions, our knowledge of these areas would be greatly diminished.
Despite his remarkable achievements Loutfy Boulos remains a modest and an unassuming man. I have had the privilege of knowing him for many years and have many fond memories including eating braised pigeon with him at a café on the banks of the Nile, a favourite haunt of his since his student days. I recall how he bore with great stoicism the loss of his herbarium, books and papers when the Kuwait Herbarium which he had founded was looted and the specimens, along with the cupboards and fittings, taken to Iraq during the invasion in 1990. This was one of the great acts of scientific vandalism. But he carried on and gradually rebuilt what had been lost.
And so, Loutfy, very many congratulations on this long overdue award.