American - Iranian Botanical Program

Coordinator: Dr. Fosiee Tahbaz

Mount Damavand, Iran, 18,550 feet

Special issue of Jepson Globe, 2004 Article in September, 2004 Jepson Globe Extract from CalIran Newsletter, 2003 Account of 2002 trip Account of 1999 trip
Read the account of the American-Iranian Botanical Program in the Berkeleyan...

The flora of Iran is exceptionally rich, with over 8,000 species (450 of which grow nowhere else on earth). This complex plant life provides an outstanding opportunity for botanical studies involving Iran and the United States.

Dr. Fosiee Tahbaz has a dual affiliation with the University and Jepson Herbaria of the University of California, Berkeley and University of Tehran, College of Agriculture. In 1999, she established the American-Iranian Botanical Program to foster collaboration among scientists in the U.S. and Iran. To date, three collecting expeditions with nine American botanists have occurred. The expiditions were facilitated by Iranian botanists representing nine differnt universities including Tehran, Mashhad Ferdowsi, Esfahan, Tabriz, Urmieh, Guilan, Mazandaran, Razi, and Bu Ali Sina. The American-Iranian Botanical Program is based on a collaboration with the University of Tehran, College of Agriculture.

To continue the program (see goals, below) funding is needed to support travel expenses and a part-time staff member. Our goal is to raise approximately $35,000 per year for 5 years. As the premier center for botanical research in western North America, the University and Jepson Herbaria are ideally suited to oversee the program. The Herbaria house over 2,000,000 plant specimens, the largest collection of botanical specimens on the West Coast and the largest at a public university. The Herbaria are also integral parts of a strong academic program in systematic and conservation biology.

Goals of the program
  • Foster collaborative relations between American botanists and their Iranian counterparts, involving multiple institutions throughout both countries.
  • Provide cross-training opportunities between Iranian and American botanists by organizing instructional workshops on systematic botany, herbarium curation, and laboratory techniques.
  • Maintain an intellectual exchange program where US scientists send scientific publications to Iran.
  • Establish a network of US scientists who will assist authors in the preparation of manuscripts for publication in American journals.
  • Provide guidance for Iranian botanists and graduate students conducting botanical and ecological research.
  • Arrange reciprocal collecting expeditions and scholarly exchange in general.
  • Establish a comprehensive collection of Iranian plants at UC Berkeley for convenient access by American and other researchers.
  • Make Iranian plant material widely available for modern botanical research (e.g., molecular phylogeny).
  • Bring an appreciation of the rich and beautiful Iranian flora to the American public.

If you wish to help further the American-Iranian Botanical Program, a University research fund has been established. If you would like to learn more, please contact Dr. Fosiee Tahbaz or Dr. Staci Markos at (510) 642-2465 or email Gifts, payable to UC Regents are tax deductible.


Visiting UC Berkeley Professor, Dr. Brent Mishler, with Iranian botanists from the University of Tehran, looking for mosses in the Caspian forest.
2002: President of the University of Tehran Dr. Faraji Dana with Drs. Brent Mishler, Dan Norris, and Fosiee Tahbaz of UC Berkeley, and Dr. M. Faezipour of University of Tehran, at the Office of the President's Office, University of Tehran.

2003: Visiting Iranian Botanists Dr. M. Mahdavian and Dr. H. Lessani, with Drs. Ertter and Tahbaz at the University and Jepson Herbaria, UC Berkeley.

2004: Botanists representing five U.S. universities visiting University of Guilan

Dr. Ihsan Al-Shehbaz (Missouri Botanical Garden) giving a talk at the College of Sciences, University of Tehran.

2007: High-level Iranian officials made a rare visit to the University and Jepson Herbaria. Pictured above, Dr. M. Rahmani (middle left) presents a gift to Dr. Brent Mishler (middle right), with Dr. Sharedust (far left) and Dr. Fosiee Tahbaz (far right), at the University and Jepson Herbaria, UC Berkeley. See the full story from UC Berkeley NewsCenter.

February 2009: Dr. M. H. Rashed (center), Professor and former Dean of the Agriculture College and Director of the Herbarium of Ferdowsi University of Mashed, Iran, visits with Dr. Fosiee Tahbaz (left) and Dr. Brent Mishler (right) at the University Herbarium in Berkeley. Dr. Rashed was one of the collaborators in the American-Iranian Botanical Program exchange in 1999. Dr. Rashed has invited Drs. Mishler and Tahbaz to visit his university in Iran.

Summer 2010: Three Iranian Botany Professors reunited at Malibou, California. From left to right: Dr. Mobayen, Emeritus Professor of the University of Tehran (who donated 500 Iranian specimens to the University and Jepson Herbaria); Dr. Tahbaz, Emerita Professor of the University of Tehran and retired Senior Museum Scientist of the UC/JEPS Herbaria, and coordinator of the AIBP; Dr. Meimandi Nejad, Emeritus Professor of the University of Tehran.


On April 21, 2011, the Herbaria hosted a visit from a botanical delegation representing the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northeastern Iraq (see KRG website at The delegation has the goal of establishing botanical gardens in Erbil and Suleimaniah. A new regional herbarium will also be established, in conjunction with a new Flora of Iraq project. The delegation consisted of:
  1. Dr. Sarbagh Salih: botanist (plant tissue culture, trained in England, worked at Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland); human rights activist
  2. Dr. Bahram K. Maulood: limnologist/phycologist; Senior Science Consultant, Twin Rivers Institute, The American University of Iraq - Sulaimani (; former president of Salahaddin University in Erbil; former KRG Deputy Minister of Agriculture & Irrigation
  3. Dr. Bushra Ahmed Hamdi: zoologist (histology/embryology); chair of Department of Laboratory Analysis, College of Pharmacy, Hawler Medical University (; formerly part of Salahaddin University in Ervil)
Two Americans, Christopher Davidson and Sharon Christoph, who travel the world with the goal of photographing all plant families, (online at accompanied the Iraqis. These five were joined by Barbara Ertter of the Herbaria.

On July 19th, 2012, Somayyeh Kheiri, a PhD student at Azad University of Tehran, and instructor of Azad University of Garmsar, Iran, visited the University and Jepson Herbaria. The visit was arranged by Dr. Fosiee Tahbaz, Coordinator of the American-Iranian Botanical Program. Dr. Richard Moe gave her a tour of the herbarium, emphasizing the algae collection and showed her UC's diatom specimens. Dr. Brent Mishler, Director, and Andrew Doran, Administrative Curator, talked with her about her diatom research project.

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