Kara Kum Desert

List of some plants (small trees, shrubs, semi shrubs, herbs) in the desert

Ammodendron conollyi: Sand Acacia (Syuzen in Turkmen, Koyan-Suek in Uzbek, Kazakh)

Psammophyte, Perennial shrub or tree, 3-7 m high, deep and well developed pivotal root up to 4 meters and adventitious horizontal roots 12-15 m. Life span 25-30 years.

Branches, open lax, crown poorly ramified and often trails down, flexuous.

Trunk: wood red 6-30 cm in diameter, two skeletal axis on which twisted, glabrous branches form. Leaves: compound-pinnate, silvery-pubescent.

Inflorescence: dark purple, in dense spikes or raceme borne in leaf axils. Flowers: bisexual, irregular, pentamerous with 10 stamina (9 accreted- 1 free).

Reproduction: Entomophilous. Flowering April – May. Fruit maturation May – June.

Fruit: large, linear, curved or twisted, light brown, polyspermous, dry dehiscent pod.

Seed: reniform, oblong-orbicular, dark brown with large, erect embryo without endosperm. More than 78% hard seed, dormancy Af type (exogenic). Fresh seed germination 8-12 %. Seed viability 9-12 years.

Pastoral importance: One of the main components of sand dune plant communities with Aristida karelinii, and on degraded or deflated areas with shifting sand dunes. Due to the formation of numerous adventitious roots, well able to withstand sand invasion and long-term covering. Leaves and annual growth grazed by small ruminants and camels, especially in winter during forage shortage when alkaloid content is lowest. Fruits consumed by all livestock even in summer and later. Fodder value – poor.

It has medicinal value as leaves, fruits and roots contain a large quantity of alkaloids (ammodendrin, pahicarpin), used as respiratory stimulant and diuretic (heart poison when used in large quantities). Extracts from the roots used as dye wool bright yellow. Dried plant used as insecticide. Useful for bee keeping and honey production as large dark purple flowers attract various pollinators. Wood can be used as construction material in boat building or well shafts strengthening. Frequently used in the rehabilitation of shifting sand. However, the rehabilitation result in natural conditions are low, due the high percentage of hard seeds.

Ammodendron kareliniihas the same ecology but the branches are more erect and rigid, prickly at the ends.

Haloxylon aphyllum. Common name – black saksaul (Russian – black saksaoul or saxaul. Odzhar in Turkmen). Family – Chenopodiaceae

This robust plant combines the attributes of a xerophyte, halophyte and mesophyte because it is drought tolerant, salt tolerant, and it is adapted for growth under medium moisture conditions. It can regulate its life processes to fit harsh and changing environmental conditions. Because of its adaptability and hard wood, it is well used for firewood in appropriate cold or hot deseerts.

This small tree can attain heights of 5-8 m and trunk of 20-40 cm. The trunk generally has a large, irregular base and the limbs are also of irregular form, ribbed and bent, with very thin gray or grayish-brown bark. The large branches can attain the same diameter as the main trunk. Instead of leaves, the plant uses thickened leafstalks – cladodes.

Black saksaul is found in temperate deserts of Central Asia from western China and Mongolia to the Caspian. Also in the hot deserts of Middle East, Asia Minor, North Africa. It often occurs naturally on heavier soils than white saxaul.

In 19th – beginning of 20th century, Saksaul wood widely used as a primary material for charcoal and locomotives and also basic fuel for local population (black saksaul wood comparable in effectiveness to brown coal). The wood is very hard and brittle.

The trees take 5-7 years to form their open, irregular canopy of foliage and flower and set seed abundantly from age 7 onward. Stabilizing desert: black saksauls is cultivated on large tracks to combat wind erosion and halt desert creep. Plantings are carried out in primary forests, especially where soil protection and water conservation are important. Forage: The foliage is grazed by livestock and the tree is planted in grassland to raise the forage yield. It is also being widely planted for shelterbelts to protect grazing lands in the North Caspian area.

Environmental Requirements: Black saksaul withstands burning hot summers +50C and subfreezing winters -35C. It grows mostly at low altitudes in Central Asia. The tree survives in some areas with less than 100 mm annual rainfall. Its taproot grows vigorously during the first years of life and penetrates soil strata as deep as 7 m to find moisture. Its seeds germinate as the snow starts melting; the roots elongate so rapidly that they keep the pace with the moisture as it sinks into the soil. The species is native to desert soils poor in humus and nutrient and rich in salts (chlorides and sulfates).

Planting stock consists of year old seedlings with an open and closed root system of the taproot type, with a height above ground of not less than 50 cm. The planting norm is 1,000 per hectare, with survival rate 60-80 %. The seeds of black saksaul harvested in November after the first frost. Storage of seed until the second silvicultural season is possible in hermetically sealed polyethylene packets with a seed moisture of 4 %. Black saksaul have excellent ability to compete with weeds. Although many insects affect black saksaul and great damage can be done by fungi, the wood production is usually relatively unaffected. It is not pioneer sand stabilizer, sowing and planting on moving dunes result in low survival.

Haloxylon persicum. Common names: White Saksaul (Ak Sazak in Turkmen). Family: Chenopodiaceae

The salt tolerant, extremely drought resistant tree. It lives in sand dunes. A tall shrub or small, gnarled tree with joined, brittle stems, up to 7 m high. It has stout, rugged stem light gray bark. When covered by drifting sands the lower part of the trunk sends out horizontal auxillary roots. They can reach several meters long before turning downward to reach 1-2 m in depth. The tree often branches close to the ground, especially when the plant is stressed. In sandy areas it often becomes bushy and grows only 1.5- 2.5 m tall. Instead of leaves, the plant has leathery cladodes – flattened leaf stalks.

White saksaul is native to the Sinai, Israel, Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia. In Central Asia and Mongolia, it grows primarily in the same geographical zones as blacl saksaul. It forms stands on sand hills and sand ridges.

The wood is excellent fuel and in thermal efficiency compares favorably with bituminous coal. It burns down to long smoldering cinders. It is also used extensively for making charcoal. The foliage is used as forage for camels and sheep, particular in winter. The shoots have a good nutrient content. The ability of the lower part to establish new roots when covered by sand makes this an excellent plant for stabilizing sandy areas.

This desert tree is less resistant to cold than black saksaul but it is more drought resistant and can be found in the areas with less 100 mm annual rainfall. It grows in heavy, loose, wind borne sands and will not grow well where the sand is powdered and compacted. It has a higly developed root system and is able to obtain moisture from a large area and from depths of 5-6 m. It is known to grow on dunes as high as 40 m. It is less salt tolerant than black saksaul. Young plants and new shoots can not tolerate soil salinity higher than 1 %, but mature trees can endure 5-6 % salt in the groundwater.

Seeds are extremely small and light and do not keep well in storage; they must be sown while fresh. Young plants can be smothered by weeds, but litterfall salinizes the soil beneath the canopy of mature trees and win the competition.

Salsola richteri (Solyanka, Cherkez)

Salsola is shrub or small tree 1-3 m high; usually densely papillose when young, then glabrescent. Stem loosely branched, up to 5 cm at base, with smooth gray bark; woody branches erect to ascending, soon turning milky white.

Terminal and subterminal annual shoots very long, erect, in upper part producing loose spikes; lateral shoots much shorter, with more condensed leaves and flowers. Leaves semi-terete to terete, straight, ascending, the longest often pendant, in lower part 3-5 cm X 0.5-1.5 mm, in upper part shorter, apiculate, basal constriction 1-1.5 mm long. Bracts spreading, leaf like 3-15 mm, at base with hyaline, sometimes ciliate margins, always much longer than bracteoles and tepals.

Bracteoles cucullate, ovate or circular in outline, usually apiculate and obtusely keeled in upper part, with wide hyaline and ciliate wing like margins embracing the flower, 1.2-2 X 3.5-4.5 mm, 1/3-1/2 as long as tepals. Tepals triangular to ovate, in upper part often ligulate, 3.5-4.5 mm, the outer 17.7-2.5 mmwide, 7-11 veined, without midrib in upper part, the others 3-5 veined, the hyaline margins up to 2/3 ciliate, apex rounded or apiculate, back without distinct green blotch, warty to papillose, transverse line at 1/7-1/10. Anthers 2-2.5 mm long, divided up to 1/2; appendage 0.4-0.5 mm long, narrow triangular, flat, smooth; filaments linear, 3 X 0,3 mm; disc lobes semi circular, 0.4 mm long, densely papillose. Style conical, 1-1.5 mm long; stigmas 2, recurved, 1-1.2 mm long, flat up to apex, 0.3-0.4 mm wide, inner side short and densely papillose, red.

Fruiting perianth 14-18 mm diameter, translucent, 2 inner wings much narrower, linear to spathulate; tepals above the wings first incurved and forming a broad, indurated, circular bulge, then more or less recurved, often forming an open funnel. Utricle 2-3 mm diameter, with slightly hardened cap; horizontal.

Florescence September – October. Holotype: Turcomania, G. S. Karelin

Salsola richteri is an obligate psammophyte and a most conspicuous component of semi stabilized and fixed sand dunes. Distribution: Southern part of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, Central and Eastern part of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistani Baluchistan.

The species can be easily distinguished from related Salsola arbuscula by its taller growth, the long, delicate leaves, the bracteoles being much shorter than the flowers, and the larger fruits with very fine, translucent wings. Used as camel fodder, fixing of shifting sand fields.

Other Salsola related species:

Salsola paletzkiana Litv(Cherkez, Solyanka Paletzkogo), small tree 3-5 m. Psammophyte in Central Asia.

Salsola gemmascens(Djertezek, Solyanka pochechkonosnaya), perennial shrub 15-35 cm, halo-xerophyte. Prime colonizer on takyr like or compacted sandy, gypseous more friable soils, taky soils developed on ancient alluvial deposits of floodplain near riverbed in Central Asia, residual salt-marshes (solonchak alkaline soils) and heavy clay or loamy gypseous soils in southwestern of Kyzylkum, Minbulak depression and various areas of desert in Kazakhstan.

Salsola lanata Pall(Boz-saran in Uzbek, Kush gezy in Turkmen, Solyanka sherstistaya), annual, succulent, pale- colored , herbaceous plant 10-60 cm. Anemophilous, entomophilous. Halophyte. Occurs on salty crusts on edges of salt marshes solonchaks, on clay and gypsum deserts, on takyr and saline sandy soils in Aral- Caspian regions, Amu Darya and Syr Darya valley, Kyzylkum, Karakum, Afghanistan, Iran, China and Mongolia.

Salsola rigida Pall(Kevryk, solyanka koryavaya), perennial shrub 15-70 cm, polymorphic, friable, much branched from base, life span 7-25 years, root system 1.5- 7 m. Xero-halophyte, gypsophyte. Occurs on grey-brown soils, clay, gravelly solonchak desert, flats and takyr. Found as single plants or in dense stands. Spread in Middle and Central Asia, Caspian region, Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan and in China.

Salsola sclerantha CAM (Shora, peshmek, Solyanka hryashetsvetnaya), annual plant 10-45 cm. Halo-xerophyte. Occurs on compacted and grey-brown sand, weakly saline, loamy clay or seldom on stony areas, as single plants or in patches of many plants in desert plant communities. Middle and Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan

Tamarix hispida Willd. Halophyte- Phreatophyte. (Yulgun in Uzbekistan, Ilgyn in Turkmenistan, Djingil in Kazakhstan, Гребенщик)

Small tree or large bush 4-6 m in height, microphyllous, polymorphic with reddish bark. Deep root system 6-8 m deep, with rhizomes and suckers. Stem: aerial branches strongly ramified, grey-brown, densely covered with hairy layer. Leaves: filamentous (appear articulate), small, scale like, alternate without hairy stipules. Flowers: bisexual; actinomorphic, small, compound perianth; often assembled into bright purple spikes or racemose inflorescence. Developed nectar disk at base of petals, 4-10 stamens, varies, accreted at base. Anthers ovoid oblong with pointed appendage, introrse by longitudinall cracks. Pollen grains 2-celled. Ovary superior with numerous ovules. Ovule anatropous, bitegmic, crassi-nucellate.

Reproduction: Sexual and vegetative. Entomophilous and anemophilous. Flowering June – September on second year branches. Fruit maturation August – October but open only next spring. Fruit: capsule many seeded, conical, loculicidally dehiscent.

Occasional grazing by small ruminants and gazelles, more readily accepted by camels and cattle. Useful fuelwood in saline environment (easy restore vegetation after cuttings). Sand binder used for reforestation and sand dune fixing on high saline water table. Source of tannins. Folk medicine use young leaves as a treatment for respiratory disorders, rheumatism and arthritis. Bark and roots used to treat gastric disturbances and disorders of the mouth.

Habitat: Sandy to clay saline soils, on solonchak. Leaf shedding is important as leaves contain salt that induces soil sterilization and stabilization under trees or bushes. Common on river banks, terraces, saline flats and takyr, and on sand duneson a high saline water table. Wind resistant. Spread in Southwestern Europe to Central Asia, North Africa, Near and Middle East. Naturalized in many semi arid and arid countries with Mediterranean climate.

Convolvulus divaricatus (Ak-Kert in Turkmen, вьюнок растопыренный партек) Psammo-xerophyte, occurs on sandy flats or gypseous soil

Perennial shrub 30-90 cm high, greyish, woolly, small hemispherical. Pivotal woody root 2-8 m in depth or more. Stem – strongly branched, prostrate and trailing from base, decumbent or ascending, densely pubescent mixed with long hairs.

Leaves – alternate, small, almost sessile, reduced to scale, highly pubescent with glandular hairs; rarely lobed or pinnately lobed with serrate margin. Lower leaves – linear- lanceolate or oblong; upper- sessile, apex obtuse to acute, oviform-lanceolate, rounded or attenuate at base. Flowers: bisexual; actinomorphic, large, funnel-shaped campanulate, yellowish or pink-white, pentamerous, assembled in a terminal dichasium by 1 or 2, 3 clusters. Perianth compound, 5 oviform-lanceolate, densely villous sepals and 5 lobed corolla 10-15 mm long with accreted petals, bell, funnel-shaped, tubular or folded; 5 stamens attached to corolla tube base with well differentiated nectarium. Anthers ovoid lengthened, opening introrse by longitudinal cracks. Pollen grain 2-celled, 3 pores. Style with 2 linear cylindrical stigmas. Ovary superior with 1-2, rarely 4, anatropous, unitegmic, tenui-nucellulate ovules.

Reproduction: Entomophilous. Flowering May- June. Fruit maturation September – October. Fruit – capsule, sometimes opening with a false crack. Seed – incurvate embryo with folding cotyledons, surrounded by hard cartilaginous layer of endosperm. Seed coat water impermeable. Dormancy Af type (exogenic). Germination low.

Pastoral importance: Well grazed by camels, sheep and goats in winter and early spring but not eaten from middle of summer until autumn.

As a medicinal plant used as a treatment for constipation and urological disease.

It is sometimes used for fixing mobile sand and small dunes

Another species:

Convolvulus hamadae (smaller, semi shrub 15-35 cm, gypso-xerophyte. Occurs on gravel and loamy sand flats)

Convolvulus korolkovii

Cistanche flava (Ilan-doodak in Turkmen, Цистанхежелтой)

Perennial parasitic plant 60-100 cm in height. Long underground vertical stem connected to roots of host plant. Flowers: yellowish, inconspicuous on short peduncle, assembled in long pyramidal spiked inflorescence emerging from sand on robust stalk. Calyx 5 lobbed. Scales of flowers, bracts and calyx segments glabrous. Corolla 30-40 mm long, yellow and blue on lower surface. Ovary glabrous with incurvate style.

Flowering May- June. Fruit – Capsule, 2-3 folding. Long underground, tuberous whitish stem rich in alkaloids, which are collected for traditional medicine for treatment of gynaecological, and urological (kidney) problems.

It occurs on sand dunes, most often in northwestern Kyzylkum and northeastern Karakum. Parasitic mostly on roots of Calligonum species.

Calligonum caput medusa(Dzhuzgun-Джузгун, Кандым голова Медузы). Psammo-xerophyte.

Perennial shrubs 1-3 m high (sometimes up to 3-4 m), life span 25-30 years, pivotal root system to 2 m in depth, superficial lateral roots 10-30 m, 2-8 cm in diameter, microphyllous, branched from base. Old branches light gray or yellow gray, often longitudinally splitting; herbaceous branchlets of current year gray- green; joints 1-4 cm. leaves linear circa 2 mm; ocrea united with leaf. Flowers 2 or 3, at leaf axil. Tepals reflexed in fruit, purple, ovate, 2-3 mm. Fruit yello-green, red-brown or red when young, becoming light yellow, yellow-brown or red-brown, subglobose, 1-3 cm in diameter. Achenes ellipsoid, coiled, prominently ribbed; bristles dense, 2 rows per rib, slightly flat at base, separate or somewhat united, 2-3 forked bellow middle, then repeatedly 2-3 forked, spiniform, stiff; apically spreading.

Florescence April- May, Fruit: May- June. Begin Fruiting at 3-5 years old.

Found in Gansu, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan

Sand fixing, fuel and ornamental plant. One of the best for sand dune environment. In spring and beginning of summer, green branches and fruits consumed by all livestock; in autumn and winter, fruits and old green stems preferred. New spring shoots contain 16 % protein and are rich in sugar. Plant organs contain 10-13 % tannin.

Other Calligonum related species:

Calligonum arborescens (Ok kondim, Кандымдревовидный) Psammophyte. Perennial woody shrub or small tree up 2-3 m high, with almost erect branches. Flowers: light pink; anthers purple. Well grazed by all livestock. Roots are rich in tannins 1.5%. Strong sand binder. Source of fuelwood. Occurs on mobile sand and sand dunes mixed in Haloxylon- Ammodendron plant communities. Found on Irano- Turanian region, Middle and Central Asia (Fergana valley).

Calligonum junceum (Okgjuzgun, Кандымситниковый)Psammophyte. Perennial, low shrub 35-80 cm, less often 110 cm, with spreading and strong branching from base. Excellent fodder plant for all livestock. Grows on rocky slopes, limestones, gravelly sand and clay plains. Occurs separately from other arid species of Calligonum. Distribution: in Central Asia – Aral- Caspian, Balkash regions, in Kyzylkum and Karakum deserts, Tien Shan, Mongolia, China.

Calligonum leucocladum (Ok Juzgun, Кандымсветлокорий)Psammophyte. Occurs on mobile and semi-fixed sands. Perennial shrub, old branches have light grey bark. Flowers – at 1-2 in axils of branchesd. Anthers bright red. Excellent fodder plant for all livestock. Found in Balkash, Aral regions, in Kyzylkum and Karakum deserts, in China

Calligonum microcarpum (Juzgun, Кандыммелкоплодный)Psammo-xerophyte. Perennial shrub up to 1 m, with pendulous leaves and dense bud covers. Bark greyish to reddish. Flowers – small, numerous, white-green. Young stems and fruits well grazed by all livestock in spring and winter. Potential for range improvement of sandy deserts. Endemic of southern Central Asian desert.

Ephedra strobilacea (Karadzha borjok in Turkmen, Kizilcha in Uzbek, Хвойникшишконосный- эфедракрылатая). Psammo-xerophyte.

Evergreen shrub 1-2 m high, dioecious, erect or hanging, with deeply penetrating 10-15 m and spreading root system. Life span 50-100 years. Stem: whip like, slender, green, fleshy and articulate, bark woody, grey. Leaves: opposite or in whorls 3-4, about 2 mm, scale like, fused at base. Flowers: in small cones: male at tips of branches subtended by ciliate bracts; perianth 2 lipped, staminal column with 3-4 sessile or short stipitate anthers: female cones 1-3 seeded, solitary or groups of 2-3, subtended by 2-4 pairs of bracts. Ovule with scarious or fleshy bracts becoming woody when seed matures.

Reproduction: dioecious. Sexual and vegetative (rhizomes). Flowering in May. Fruit maturation June – July. Fruit: dry, winged 6-7 mm, papery, fleshy yellow-reddish with scale bracteoles. Seed: surrounded by fleshy coat, with woody tegument; endosperm and embryo developed. Dormancy A2-B1 type, dark sentative, at 20 C temperature - germination is 20-40 %.

Good energy providing forage for all livestock including young animals. In summer, when allthe ephemeres have dried out, it is well consumed by goats, sheep and camels. In autumn- winter, it is the main fodder resource, particular after snowfall. Palatability is lowered when Haloxylon and some species of Salsola dominate the plant communities.

Medicinal use: Alkaloids of ephedrine groups used for regulation of nervous system, increasing blood pressure, treatment for rheumatism and gastric problems, bronchial asthma and cardiovascular disorders.

Sand fixing plant. However, its use in range improvement is not always successful due to severe insect damage to seed. Occurs on fixed and mobile sand as single plants mixed with Haloxylon, Salsola richteri, some ephemeroid and annual plants. Stand and grow even when partially buried on shifting dunes. Distributed in Central Asia, eastern Mediterranean region, Northeastern Africa, Syria to Arabia.

Smirnovia turkestana (Patlak in Turkmen, Смирновия туркестанская). Xerophyte.

Perennial shrub 60-160 cm high, woody and strongly branched at base. Pivotal root system 2-3 m in depth. Stem: annual, numerous, herbaceous, glabrous or poorly pubescent. Leaves: simple, reverse cordate 4-20 mm long and 4-15 mm wide. Leaves at top: silvery pubescent on both surfaces, bidentate at top, entire. The secondary leaf generation in autumn is characteristic for this plant. Stipules free, triangular lanceolate. Flowers: bisexual; solitary in axil of upper leaves 2-5 mm long on hanging peduncle; zygomorphic, pentamerous pink-red with fused tubular campanulate sepals; 10 stamens (9 accreted and 1 free). Ovary superior with single carpel.

Reproduction: Sexual or vegetative (suckers). Entomophilous. Flowering April- May. Fruit maturation May – June. Fruit: large inflated pod 3.8-5 cm, pale brown, dry, dehiscent, swollen, bubble or egg-shaped, oval ovoid, on short peduncle, polyspermous 3-5 reach maturity. Seed: ovoid- orbiculate or reniform 5.1-6.3 mm, pale brown or light green, with smooth and lusterless spermoderm. Dormancy Af type (exogenic). Seed longevity 8-9 years.

Not grazed or consumed by livestock. Frequently present on sandy soil, rarely on clay saline soils, on the edge of takyr. Endemic of Middle Asia.

Peganum harmala. Psammo-xero- halophyte. (Yuzarlik, Izarlik – Turkmen, Issirik, Adraspan, Hazarasband – Uzbek and Kazakh, Hazorispand in Tajik, Гармалаобыкновенная, могильник, дикаярута. Also known as wild rue, Syrian rue, African rue (not related to rue) or harmel

Perennial, short hemispherical herb or shrub 30-50 cm, contrasting green, glaucous, with woody base, strong characteristic smell. Strong pivotal root system to 180 cm deep. Stem: numerous, twisting or erect, glabrous much branched from base. Numerous leaves 3-8 cm, sessile, opposite, glabrous, fleshy, blade irregularly pinnate-sected; lobes linear, entire, acute. Stipules 1-2 mm, subulate. Flowers: bisexual; large 2-4 cm, white yellow, regular, pedicelled, solitary or paired in terminal cymose inflorescence. Sepals 1-1.5 cm, narrowly linearsometimes with small lateral lobes; 12-15 stamens dilated at base, inserted in whorls 3-5 in 3 rows at base of cup-shaped disc. Pollen grain 2-celled and 3- colporate. Ovary superior, 3 locular, globose with numerous ovules. Stigmas: lobed on short style.

Reproduction: Sexual. Entomophilous. Flowering May – July. Fruit maturation August – September. Fruit: dry loculicidal or dehiscent capsule 5-8 mm, pale brown, sub-globose.

Usually growing in temperate deserts, in Central Asia and Mediterranean regions, Spain, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, India, Israel and in Russia. In some countries, it is considered as poisonous or noxious weed because eating it can cause livestock to sicken or die. In Central Asia, Middle Eastern and Northern Africa it is popular in folk medicine.

The plant contain the alkaloids, including seeds, are hallucinogenic. The plant is popular in Persian cultural traditions, mentioned in ancient Persian Zoroastrian text as Avestan Haoma (Divine Plant). In Central Asia countries, Turkey it is popular for folk traditions to burn it or strung and hung in homes or in vehicles as protection or during the weddings. In folk medicine used also as an analgesic, emmenagogue, abortifacient and anthelmintic agent.

Rheum turkestanicum (Tuyayoprok in Uzbek, Eskhen in Turkmen, ревень). Meso- halophyte

Perennial, ephemeroid large herb 25-60 cm, robust with woody base and large leaves. Root well developed, bulbiferous. Stalk: scapose, reddish, strong, furrow shaped, hollow, 40-50 cm long. Leaves: up to 100 cm wide, long stalked, entire, alternate, flat on ground, large blade 90-110 cm wide, palmate, prominently nerved, about 305 on plant, radial, orbicular in basal rosettes; upper surface of leaves glabrous; lower surface has dense short hairs. Flowers: bisexual; pale yellowish or red, assembled 2-3, forming large, branched, scapose, terminal spike with spherical inflorescence 30- 50 cm in diameter. Perianth 3-6, greenish, free.

Reproduction: Sexual. Flowering April – May. Fruit maturation May. Fruit: nutlets, triquetrous dark red-brown with broad papery wings.

Excellent fodder plant; large succulent leaves and young inflorescences well grazed by all livestock. When abundant, camels can manage without water for 4 days up to 2 weeks. Fresh leaves are rich in sugar up to 6 %. Often collected and used for silage with the addition of straw. Roots and fruits contain valuable tannins and coloring substances orange- red used for processing skins. In traditional medicine used as a treatment for gastric diseases (purgative); tincture from fruits and roots used as blood coagulant (stauncher).

Occurs in patches of many plants on sandy soils and fixed sand dunes; also on grey-brown sandy soils, sierozem and occasionally on saline flats. Often found in association with Artemisia, Haloxylon and Salsola arbuscula plant comminuties. Distributed in Middle and Central Asia (Irano- Turanian region).

Other species: Rheum tataricum

Astragalus unifoliolatus (Singren - Uzbek, Астрагалоднолосточковый, сингрен). Psammophyte

Perennial shrub, life span 8-12 years. Tap root system up to 2.5 m, with numerous adventitious roots. Early leaf shedding June – August, and accelerated reproductive stage. Stem: thick angular, lignified, lowered, covered by dark grey bark. Annual branches 13-28 cm long, pale white or light grey, numerous, erect to spreading from base. Leaves 2-6 cm, upper with 1 leaflet, lower with 3-5 short petiolate, retuse. Leaflets elliptic-lanceolate, slightly acuminate, 1-5 cm long and 3-7 cm wide, densely pubescent. Stipules 2 – 2.5 mm, membranous, broadly triangular, accreted with base of petiole. Flowers: short pedunculate, purple-violet, solitary along branches, assembled in loose large spikes 1.5-2.2 cm. Calyx campanulate 3.4-4.5 mm long, densely pubescent , teeth lanceolate linear, 3-4 times shorter than tube.

Reproduction – sexual. Entomophilous and self-pollination. Flowering April- May. Fruit maturation May- July. Fruit: dry, dehiscent, membranous, 2- loculate, monospermous, long, wooly, oblong-ovate pod 8-12 mm with short nose at end. Seed: ovate-orbicular to elliptic 2.9 mm long – 1.4 mm wide, reniform, light green or greyish –yellow.

In mixtures with species of Convolvulus, Carex, Haloxylon, Calligonum, it is grazed all year round by sheep and camels.

Occurs on deep sand and sand dunes; co-colonizer of woody shrubs – Carex or Carex- Haloxylon plant associations on fixed or shifting sand with deep water table.

Endemic of Middle Asia – Karaku, Kyzylkum, delta of Amu Darya, Sundukli sands.

Other species of Astragalus:
  • Astragalus alopecias Pall (Kiyikpanja – Uzbek, Patlak – Turkmen, Astragal lisovidnyi, singren)
  • Astragalus villosissimus Bge (Singren, Astragal kosmateyshii)
  • Astragalus centralis (A.kisylkumi Boriss)
  • Astragalus filicaulis Fish. Et Mey. In Karakum
  • Astragalus scleroxylon Bge

Carex pachystylus Gay. (Kongur bash in Uzbek, Kora ilak in Turkmen, osoka pustynnaya)

Perennial ephemeroid, small plant 7-30 cm, grass like, herbaceous. Spring- summer growth period 67- 210 days. Densely tifted plant with basal black rosette of leaves. Main roots have numerous adventitious roots growing 60 cm depth (in Kyzylkum to 1.4 m); lateral roots extend 15-30 cm. Stem: 3-edged, glabrous. Leaves: alternate, sessile, rough with wide and rolled black sheath at base and narrow parallel veined leaf plate. Flowers: unisexual or bisexual (most common); small, sessile, at the axil of two abreast bract leaves. Inflorescence: terminal, compound spike on 3-7 assembled in compact black head. Perianth strongly reduced; 3 stamens, seldom 2 or 1, yellow. Pollen grasin 3 celled. Ovary superior with one anatropous, crassi-nucellate, bitegmic ovule.

Reproduction. Sexual and vegetative (suckers). Usually, wind pollinated plant. Flowering March – beginning of May. Fruit maturation May- June. Fruit: nutlet, indehiscent with woody fruiting body, enclosed in hulled brown sack. Seed: small, fine, well developed embryo and endosperm (nuclear type). Dormancy B1- B3 type, deep- intermediate endogenic. Germination rate is very low. Seed viability 2-3 years.

Excellent forage and one of the most reliable spring forage plants, with high calorific value in winter- spring. Flush of vegetation occurs at the end of February- April when spring starts.

Other species: Carex physodes

Alhagi camelorum, Alhagi pseudalhagi (camelthorn, Caspian Manna, верблюжьяколючка). Xero-phreatophyte

The shrub 50 – 100 cm, with strong root system, deep to 2 m , collecting the water from near water table, adventitious roots may extend to 5 m or over, giving the new shoots from parental plant. One of the most valuable forage plants for camels, sheep, lambs and cattle all year round. Young stems, leaves, fruits and seeds are considered a fattening feed. Fruits are eaten by large herbivores, especially cattle and horses. Collected intensively by farmers for haymaking and silage at flowering time; used as part or pure concentrate granular feed. Hay considered to be as good as the best cereal straw.

Medical plant used for anti-diarrhoeal, antiseptic, diuretic properties or treatment for respiratory illness. Good sand fixing and wind break plant. Collected for fuel and construction material. Roots contain rubber, sugar, tannins, resins and wax.

Present in sandy desert and foothill zones, moist wasteland, on the banks of dry river beds and low wet lands, and abandoned cultivated land. Often grows on heavy soils. Tolerates some salinity and a saline water table.

Found in Central and East Asia, southern part of Russia, Iran and eastern Mediterranean region.

Heliotropium arguzioides

It is a perennial herb 25-30 cm. Stem is erect or ascending, branched from base, densely pubescent, with ribs and flaking white bark; branches crowded. Petiole short 3-5 mm, white pubescent; leaf blade grey-green, oblong-elliptic to oblong or ovate 1-2 X 0.5-1 mm, abaxially soft pubescent, adaxially scabrous, densely appressed hirsute and hirtellous, base rounded to broadly cuneate, margin subrevolute, apex obtuse to acute; lateral veins 2 or 3 pairs. Cymes terminal and auxillary, scorpiod 1-2.5 mm wide, pubescent, ebracteate. Flowers sessile. Calyx 1.5-2 mm, parted nearly to base, densely grey pubesecent outside, glabrous inside; lobes narrowly ovate or oblong. Corolla white, tubular, 2-3.5 mm, base circa 1 mm wide; limb circa 1 mm wide, densely antrorse pubescent outside, glabrous inside; lobes orbicular, margin crispate.

Filaments extremely short, inserted above middle of corolla tube; anthers ovate circa 0.5 mm. Ovary ellipsoid, glabrous. Style circa 1 mm, glabrous; stigma short conical 0.5-2 mm, glabrous, base ringlike. Fruit ellipsoid, divided at maturity into 4 one-seeded mericarps; mericarps ovate 2-3 mm densely villous. Flowering and fruit maturation in August.

Occurs on dunes in Chinese N. Xinjiang, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan

Other species:

Heliotropium radula

Heliotropium xinjiangense

Aristida karelini (Erkek selin in Turkmen, Ak seleu in Kazakh, Seling in Uzbek, ТриостницаКарелина)

Perennial large, loose bunchgrass 80-150 cm high and up to 100 cm in diameter. Life span 10 years. Tough, filamentous, superficial root system, able to capture all surface moisture from sand dunes. Horizontal roots, with underground stems – suckers extend 15 m from bunch. Specific ability to convert aboveground stems 1 – 2 year old into suckers when covered by moving sand. Roots are protected by formation of sandy sheath or sand aggregated tube formed by secretion from hairs on roots. Stem: densely branched from bunch base, glabrous. Leaves: narrowly linear, wide at base, becoming rolled and spiky at tip; surface has dense spiny hairy layer. Inflorescence: open loose spike; base more or less covered by sheath of top leaf. Flowers: without perianth. Vegetative growth begins in April.

Reproduction. Sexual. Rarely vegetastive with suckers. Entomophilous or anemophilous. Flowering: June. Fruit maturation: end of June; July- August in northern area. Fruit: indehiscent, dry, hard kernel, pale yellow, with fruiting body closely attached to seed coat. Seed: large, well differentiated embryo, at the base of seed with abundant starchy endosperm. Dormancy A2-B1 type, intermediate endogenic. Light sensitive. Seed longevity 7-9 years.

Most important in sand dune formation; an early colonizer of plant associations and formationson shifting dunes. Considered a poor fodder plant. Hardly grazed, even when green, but used more in late autumn and winter. Well consumed by all livestock when collected as hay before flowering or after being softened by rain and snow late in autumn or beginning of winter.

Other species:

Aristida pennata Trin(Urkochi selin, Триостницаперистая) Perennial bunch grass 40 cm high, 2-25 cm in diameter, horizontal roots 5-6 m. In Central Asia, Caucasus, western Siberia, Iran, China.

Ferula foetida (family Apiaceae, Ferula assa – foetida, Gian fennel, Ferula vonyuchaya, Sassyk kavrak)

Herbaceous, monocarpic perennial, with a large, oval, fleshy root up to 15 cm in diameter. Stem thick 1- 1.2 m high, upper portion branching and forming a dense globose panicle. Leaves mostly glabrous above, more or less soft villous beneath, senescing early; basal leaves short petiolate with broad blade, ternate with bipinnatisect lobes, lobules decurrent 15 cm long an 5 cm wide; lower leaves alternate; upper leaves smaller and becoming reduced to sheaths. Inflorescences compound umbels; terminal umbel sessile or on a reduced peduncle, spherical 15-20 cm wide; lateral umbels on long peduncles. Petals light yellow, almost cream colored. Fruit a schizocarp with 2 one-seeded mericarps; mericarps flattened, pubescent, 1.6-2.2 cm long and wide. Ovary and fruit pubescent. Seeds have an extremely objectionable, persistent odor.

Flower in March- April, fruits in April – May. Reproduction by seeds. Habitat – adur zones, plains in foothills, on stone-clay soils. Distribution in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan. Found as single individuals.

Used in Central Asia folk medicine since ancient times, as an anticonvulsant, vermifuge and to treat some nervous diseases. The gum-resin used in Chinese medicine as a restorative and tonic for hysterics, neurasthenia and vegetative neurosis and to treat some skin diseases and common colds, as an expectorant and anticonvulsant, and mixed with other drug substances to treat lung tuberculosis, exudative diathesis, lymphadenitis and osteitis. Avicenna used this plant to treat tumors, jaundice and other liver diseases, as well as stomach, kidney, spleen diseases and as a diuretic and hemostatic for uterine bleeding.

Ferula litwinowiana (family Apiaceae),a low hairy herbaceous perennial with numerous small triangular pinnately cut leaves and inconspicuous flowers in compound umbels. Native to the Transcaspian region)

Ferula kuhistanica

Ferula moschata

Eminium regelii - Eminium lehmannii (Korakulak, Эминиум Регеля)

Perennial herb 15-40 cm high, with flat-spherical tuber, 3 cm in diameter. Leaves basal, light green, entire, oblanceolate to elliptic, the base wide-cuneate, sheathing, petiolate. Inflorescence a spadix; spathe tube 4-7 cm long, spathe blade ovate or oblong, inside velvety black-violet; spadix appendix 5-7 cm long, cylindrical, black-blue. Fruits subglobose berries, 1-2 seeded. Inflorescence produces the odor of rotten meat. Flowering and fruits in April – May. Reproduction by seeds and tubers. Habitat: the adyr zone, loess slopes of hills, on dry, shallow-soiled slopes with rocky debris. Found as single individuals.

The powered tubers used as an analgesic to treat rheumatism, used internally to treat stomach aches, abdominal pain, internal diseases, dysentery.

The tubers contain poisonous saponins, traces of alkaloids and starch. The spathe contains pigments. The leaves and tuber contain a number of different lipids. The leaves contain carotinoids: neoxanthine and carotene.

An extract of the tubers had strophantine like action on the heart.

Senecio subdentatus (Sarykbosh, Yapir, Крестовник малозубчатый)

Annual ephemeral herb 5-30 cm high. Stem: glabrous ascending or erect, branchy from base. Leaves: bottom – sessile, dense, white woolly on under surface; middle and upper – on short petioles. Alternate, dentate on margins, oblong-lanceolate 2.5-7 cm long and 0.2-1 cm wide, without stipules. Flowers: bisexual; heads radiate, usually in friable panicle when dry or in corymbose clusters 3-5 or numerous, heterogamous. Involucral bracts 1-seriate. Ray florets flattened, female; disk florets tubular 3-8 mm in diameter, yellow. Pappus of simple hairs.

Reproduction. Sexual. Entomophilous. Flowering March- May. Fruit maturation May- June. Fruit: achenes 3-5 mm long, narrow, cylindrical, ribbed without beak. Seed: indehiscent monospermous with erect, well differentiated embryo without endosperm. Dormancy B1 type.

Grazed by livestock in spring, both as pasture and hay. Contains alkaloids: senetsin and senetsifolin. Liquid tincture and extract from aboveground organs used for regulation of blood pressure as well as a treatment for gastric and mental disorders.

Occurs mostly on sands but rarely on rocky-gravelly soils; occasionally as a weed in crops on sierozem. Grows as single plants or in patches. Distributed in Central Asia, Caucusus, Siberia, Mongolia, Western China, North Africa, Middle East.

Horaninovia ulicina

Plants 2-40 cm high,densely papillate- hispidulous. Stem much branched, slender; branches opposite, oblique, straight, thin, terete or obscurely ribbed. Leaves opposite, sessile, green, acicular, straight or slightly arcuate 5-10 mm, base slightly expanded, margin membranous. Inflorescence of axillary, globose, usually numerous-flowered glomerules, pilose; bract 1 and bractlets 2 per flower; bract of the same shape as leaves; bractlets yellow white, stiffy acicular shorter than leaves, glabrous, base expanded, appearing ovate or suborbicular. Flowers bisexual. Perianth segments 5, onlong-lanceolate, membranous, perianth below wing slightly thickened, distal part incurved and enclosing utricle; wings unequal, dry membranous, margin erose. Filaments not exserted, short; anthers ovoid to cylindric, apex obtuse or acute, without an appendage. Utricle 1-1.5 mm in diameter; pericarp light brown. Enbryo yellow-brown.

Occurs on dunes. Distribution: North Xinjiang, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Afghanistan.

Jurinea derderioides (Asteraceae)

It is a hardy herbaceous perennial about up to 91 cm high, with grey oblong-lanceolate leaves and small heads of purple flowers. Native to Turkistan

Populus pruinosa (Turangyl in Uzbek, тополь сизолистый). Hygrophyte.

Deciduous tree 15-20 mm high, with erect or slightly twisting trunk up to 50 cm in diameter. Crown wide spreading with brownish grey bark. Stem: glabrous, yellowish brown. Buds oviform 5-7 mm. Leaves alternate, undivided, broad, longer petiolate; dimorphic; entire, broadly rhombic orbicular 2-4 cm long, 4-6 cm wide, upward, entire or irregularly toothed, slightly pointed or grooved at tip. Catkins appear before leaves, pendulous. Perianth cup-shaped, many toothed; male flowers up to 2 mm long, long pedicelled in compact catkins; 12-14 stamens; anthers ovate, dark brown with free filaments. Female catkins 5-6 cm long, dense, wooly with single ovary.

Reproduction – sexual and vegetative (suckers). Anemophilous. Flowering April. Fruit: large, ovoid-oblong capsule, narrow at top, 6-10 mm long, opening by 2 slits.

Riparian. Occurs in tugai forest, river banks, springs, along Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. Moderately salt tolerant. Often mixed with Populus diversifolia in tugai; forms dense groves along the rivers in highlands 350- 1950 m. Distributed in Central Asia, southern Kazakhstan, Iran and western China

Other Populus species:

Populus litwinowiana Dode