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High-altitude mountain ash

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2013-02-13

During seasonal scientific and practical expeditions on the territory of Kopetdag State Reserve, it was investigated the condition of population of the rare plant of the Turkmen flora — Sorbus persica, being observed within many years. Study of mountain ash is carried out in Hyrsdere and Karayalchi gorges, where frost-hardy mountain xerophyte “climbed up” the height of 1550-1720 meters above sea level. To date, it is the only populations of Sorbus persica found in the country. Here, the trees grow in narrow canyons with steep slopes. Along the bottom of one of them, a stream is running. During torrential rains, the watercourses appear there. They often form the mud torrents, which is the subject of particular anxiety of ecologists and botanists for the fate of species.

The place of origin and initial development of mountain ash is the East Asia. And today, its natural habitat covers the Himalayas, Tien Shan and Pamir-Alai, the Caucasus, Iran, including Kopetdag. Mountain ash grows in small groups, but often solitary specimens, preferring the rocky slopes of mountain exposures, talus of wide gorges.

According to data of the second half of ХХ century, there were six trees in walnut grove of Karayalchi gorge. Unfortunately, while repeated inventories, the number of trees reduced to four. Therefore, the find of mountain ash is a real success. It was made during investigation of the northern slopes of Hyrsdere gorge in 2007, where among the Turkmen juniper, Turkmen maple, cotoneaster, dog rose napiform, Colutea buhsei, it was found just three of its isolated population with the number of trees in 270 pieces! The state of these trees is estimated by the experts as satisfactory. The last finding is dated to 2011, when near Tyrnov mountain ridge at the height of 1.800 meters above sea level, the scientists discovered three populations of mountain ash with a total number of specimen in 37 species!

Sorbus persica is a valuable fruit, melliferous, medicinal plant with tanning properties. This tree grows from 60 to 100 years. It is quite resistant to pests and diseases, and creates around itself “mikrosanatory”, because it produces a large number of volatile productions, which is not inferior to those, being contained in onion and garlic. The tree can be of great practical significance while use in forest reclamation, strengthening the slopes of mountains and river banks, as well as for landscape gardening of cities and towns of foothill areas. This species differs by high fertility, has strongly expressed immune properties and, according to the botanists, it may take a leading position in the register of vegetable material in formation of “green” architecture of parks and gardens and forestry shelterbelts.

Today, mountain ash is of practical importance as source material for selection, valuable stock of cultivated sorts to achieve heat- and drought-resistance. At present, the species is under the threat of extinction and is listed in the Red Data Book of Turkmenistan. The available populations are protected on the territory of Kopetdag State Reserve. In other plots, it is continued the measures on search of new locations of mountain ash as well as experiments on introduction of a wild plant into planting.

Guljemal Kurbanmamedova,
Ministry of Nature Protection of Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan: golden age

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