Me­dicinal Milkvetches of the Koy­ten­dag Moun­tains

22 October 2021

The flo­ra of Turk­me­nis­tan inclu­des about three thou­sand species, of which one-third can be found in the Koy­ten­dag Moun­tains – in gor­ges, on hills, at foot­hills and along moun­tain rivers and la­kes. Among the plants that comp­le­ment the local landscape are ama­zing milkvetches (Ast­ra­ga­lus). In dif­fe­rent parts of the count­ry, 157 species grow, 63 of them can be found in the moun­tain zo­nes of the sout­heast of the count­ry at an al­ti­tu­de of 2,500 met­res above sea level; ni­ne species are en­de­mic, for examp­le, Ast­ra­ga­lus ke­li­fi, and twen­ty ones can be att­ri­bu­ted to ra­re plants.

Bio­lo­gical­ly active subs­tances found in various or­gans of the­se le­gu­mi­nous plants are cha­racte­ri­sed as me­dicinal, fod­der, or­na­men­tal, dyeing, or in­dust­rial raw ma­te­rial. High in the moun­tains, milkvetches are ra­re, they pre­fer the flat foot­hills and even the san­dy areas of the Ka­ra­kum De­sert; they are well ea­ten by lives­tock, the­re­fo­re so­me of them are used in fod­der pro­ducti­on. The­re is a ne­ed for do­mes­tication in their na­tu­ral ha­bi­tats by ad­di­tio­nal over-gras­sing. Lives­tock bree­ders app­reciate their tall­ness, pro­ductivity, high ger­mi­na­tion capacity even af­ter secon­da­ry mo­wing, re­sis­tance to adver­se environ­men­tal inf­luences, di­sea­ses and pests. A num­ber of milkvetches in so­me qua­li­ties are clo­se to hay gras­ses, such as Ast­ra­ga­lus is­pa­ha­nicus, A. glo­biceps, A. schmal­hau­se­nii and A. cam­py­lot­richus.

Ma­ral SA­HA­TOVA,
a scien­ti­fic wor­ker at the Na­tio­nal Ins­ti­tu­te of De­sert, Flo­ra and Fau­na, Mi­nist­ry of Ag­ricul­tu­re and Environ­ment Pro­tecti­on of Turk­me­nis­tan. Pho­to: the aut­hor