Serpentine (ultramafic) outcrops are found in most parts of the world and for many years have attracted the attention of soil scientists and plant biologists alike due to the unusual nature of both the substrate and the life forms they harbour. In this paper, we introduce serpentine outcrops as a model habitat for botanical studies and review preliminary findings of a recently conducted soil and floristic survey of four of the five known serpentine outcrops in Sri Lanka. We hope that this paper will stimulate much-needed studies, both exploratory and experimental, and point to the immediate need for conservation of this unique habitat.



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