Conservation of Sorbus hajastana, an ancient relict plant in Armenia

A joint project initiated in 2017 by the Institute of Botany of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences (NAS RA), Yerevan Botanical Garden of the Institute of Botany of NAS RA and BGCI to scale up conservation action for the threatened Sorbus hajastana.

Conservation problem

Sorbus hajastana (Aroseni hajastanyan, Արոսենի հայաստանյան), Rosaceae, is threatened due to habitat loss as a result of forest clearance for the expansion of recreational areas and infrastructure as well as other construction activities.

Project goal

Sorbus hajastana is better protected through the implementation of integrated ex and in situ conservation measures.

Why this species?

Sorbus hajastana is an ancient, palaeo-endemic plant of the southern Caucasus. It grows on rocky slopes and in subalpine meadows at altitudes between 1,600-2,400 meters above sea level, in north and north-west orientated positions. A large shrub or a tree up to 9 m tall, the species is known from six locations in central Armenia and one area in Georgia. This plant is an important source of food especially for birds, and is valued in honey production and herbal medicine.  It is also very ornamental due to its broadly-pyramidal crown, entire, with large teeth, leathery, shiny leaves, snow-white below and large, dark orange-red fruits. Habitat loss as a result of logging for the expansion of recreational zones and other construction work, has reduced the vitality of the natural populations in recent years; the species is recorded as VU in the Red Data Book of Armenia (2010), and as EN in the Red List of Georgia (2006; updated 2014).

What are we doing about it?

In 2017, the Institute of Botany of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences (NAS RA), Yerevan Botanical Garden of the Institute of Botany of NAS RA and BGCI started a new collaborative initiative to scale up conservation action for S. hajastana. The aim of this three-year project is to develop an integrated action plan, comprising:

  • Survey and inventory of all populations in Armenia;
  • Ex situ conservation at Yerevan Botanical Garden; and
  • Elaboration of recommendations for improved conservation in situ, in particular in Sevan National Park and other locations of the species’ natural distribution.

 

Did you know?

‘Hajastana’ means ‘Armenian’.