This book covers the Transcaucasus region, as well as adjacent eastern Turkey and northern Iran. It is useful beyond the above areas in South West Asia. The book includes 1276 different plant species. Most of them are typical to the Transcaucasus region, while some are rare or unique. All of the species in the book are described and photographed. Almost all photographs were taken in nature, some in remote and almost inaccessible sites. The species are arranged alphabetically according to their genera and species.
Species texts -The information provided for each species is original and updated. We have chosen to follow the older taxonomy ,with names that appear in most of the local literature, and include important synonymy when required.
– a short description, emphasizing the main identifying characteristics. In some cases we added comments on uses, systematics, pollination and more.
– blooming months
– local habitat specification, as well as vegetation and altitudinal range (e.g. bush thickets, forest edges and near streams; 600-2300 m.).
– local and global distributions, plus local abundance (e.g. very rare in S Armenia (Zangezur, Meghri) and Iran; also in Syria).
Different parts of the Transcaucasus have been subject to different influences, as they are situated at the junction of completely different floristic provinces: the temperate, damp (mesophilous) Caucasian province, which is part of the Euro-Siberian phytogeographical region, and the dry, arid (xerophilous) Anatolian, Armeno-Iranian provinces, which are part of the Irano-Turanian region (Takhtajan, 1978,1986).
Mediterranean influences are especially visible in Karabagh and in the southern Zangezur and Meghri mountains; it is clearly expressed also in bushy overgrowths of the shibliak of the northern parts of the region.
The floristic richness of the three sub-regions – Transcaucasus, North East Turkey and North West Iran – is about equally distributed, each containing over three thousand species, of which some 60-70% are common to all three. There are series of endemic or sub-endemic genera and species in this region, especially from the Asteraceae, Brassicaceae, Fabaceae families, but from others as well. The influence of the different climates, diverse geology, altitudinal transects, and the invasion of adjacent floras, have given rise to a very rich and unique variety of species, about two or three times richer than similar areas in northern Europe.
The Transcaucasus is an extremely active centre of speciation in South West Asia. Many narrow endemics are adapted to specific types of substrates, such as limestone, travertines, gypsum, salines, etc. (Takhtajan & An. Fedorov, 1972). Such endemics are represented in the large genera – Cousinia, Centaurea, Astragalus,Tragopogon, Acantholimon, etc. The abundance of endemic species clearly indicates active speciation in relatively ‘young’ groups.
Plants with disjunctive or unusual distribution are intriguing as well. Most of them are relics preserved from previous eras, thus revealing ancient floristic links, such as the beautiful Nectaroscordum tripedale, Vavilovia ausheri, Tomanthea carthamoides, Cercis griffithii and many others.