Included here is the Anatolian Plateau east of the ‘Anatolian Diagonal’, the Armenian Highlands, most of Iran and part of Afghanistan.

Armeno-Iranian Quercus brantii Forest

Also described as Zagrosian Forest after the Zagros Moutains, these forests characterize much of the southern Armenian, Kurdistanian and Zagrosian sectors of Iran. They require fairly regular summer precipitation, which usually comes in the form of thunderstorms. Their upper altitudinal limit is about 2000 m and extends down to 700 m in northwestern Kurdistan. In Places Quercus brantii is joined by other oak species such as Q. boisseri, Q. iberica and Q. infectoria, while other characteristic trees and shrubs include Acer cinerascens, Amelanchier integrifolia, Amygdalus communis, Berberis integerrima, Celtis tournefortii, Cerasus microcarpa, Crataegus azarolus, Daphne angustifolia, Fontanesia phyllireoides, Fraxinus oxyphylla, Juniper oxycedrus, Lonicera nummulariaefolia, Pyrus syriaca, Rhamnus kurdica, Sorbus integrifolia and several endemic or near endemic taxa such as Amygdalus elaeagnifolia, Pyrus glabra (Roseaceae) and Fraxinus rotundifolia subsp. persica (Oleaceae). These forests are rich in fruit trees and possibly represent the original vegetation of the Garden of Eden which certain scholars believe really existed.

Armeno-Iranian Kopetdagh Short-Tree (Fruit) Woodland (Shiblyak Communities)

Short-tree woodland dominated by Paliurus spinochristi or the endemic Acer turcomanicum (Aceraceae) is characteristic of the southwestern part of the Kopetdagh Mountains. At altitudes between 300-800 m on moist northern slopes and along the beds of temporary streams Paliurus is the main species. It forms a canopy to heights of up to 5 m, while the under story is composed of shrubs such as Colutea gracilis, Jasminum fruticans, Rubia florida and Rhamnus sintenisii. The ground layer includes species such as the endemic herbs Cousinia albiflora (Asteraceae) and Phlomis kopetdaghensis (Lamiaceae). Woodlands dominated by Acer turcomanium are found at altitudes between 800 – 2500 m. These have a lower canopy down to about 3 m. Typical understory shrubs include Amygdalus communis, Celtis caucasica and Cotoneaster nummularia, while the ground layer is usually composed of mesophilic meadow grasses such as Trisetum flavescens and herbaceous taxa like Allium paradoxum, Fritillaria raddeana, Orthurus heterocarpus and the near endemic Lamium turkestanicum (Lamiaceae). Parts of this zone is also be dominated by hawthorns, usually Crataegus pseudoambigua, but also C. melanocarpa, C. pontica or C. turkestanica. However, a very special feature of these short-tree woodlands in general is the large numbers of fruiting trees, shrubs and vines they support. These include pomegranate (Punica granatum), wild grapes (Vitis sylvestris and V. vinifera), mulberry (Morus alba), jujube (Zyzyphus jujuba), fig (Ficus carica), wild cherries (Cerasus erythrocarpa, C. microcarpa and the endemic C. blinovskii), wild plum (Prunus divaricata), quince (Cydonia oblonga), meddlar (Mespilus germanica), almonds (Amygdalus communis and the endemic A. scoparia), the endemic apple (Malus turkmenorum) and the endemic wild pear (Pyrus boissieriana).

Armeno-Iranian Juniperus turkomanica Woodland

Woodland dominated by the endemic Juniperus turkomanica (Cupressaceae) are mainly confined to inaccessible mountain ridges in the Kopetdagh Mountains.

Armeno-Iranian Mountain Riparian Woodland

These are mainly confined to humid river valleys in the Kopetdagh Mountains at elevation between 1000-1500 m. They are variously dominated by Fraxinus syriaca (Syrian ash), Juglans regia subsp. turcomanica (walnut) or Ulmus carpinifolia (elm). Understory shrubs include Lonicera floribunda, Rosa lacerans and Rubus sanguineus, while typical herbaceous ground species are Anisantha sterilis, Anthriscus longirostris and Physocaulis nodosus. Rare and endemic orchids such as Epipactis veratrifolia and Ophrys transhyrcana (Orchidaceae) may also be encountered. In the more humid zones hygrophytic species like Mentha longifolia and the horsetail Equisetum ramosissimum are common. There are also several wild vine species including Vitis silvestris, which often embraces tree crowns to heights of 10 m, Periploca graeca, a Mediterranean-Caucasian species, and the ancient relict Malacocarpus crithmifolium (Peganaceae). The latter is found in several disjunct locations in Middle Asia.


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