Included here is the Anatolian Plateau east of the ‘Anatolian Diagonal’, the Armenian Highlands, most of Iran and part of Afghanistan. This zone, particularly Iran, is very important for 'salty' ecosystems with 365 species in 151 genera and 44 families, and probably has the most diverse halophytic and salt tolerant flora in the world. The Irano-Turanian Region is thought to be the centre of origin of many of the halophytic genera of the Chenopodiaceae including Bienertia, Climacoptera, Gamanthus, Halanthium, Halimocnemis, Kalidium, Petrosimonia, Piptoptera, Salsola and Suaeda.

Armeno-Iranian Halocnemum strobilaceum Saltmarsh

This forms the bulk of the halophytic vegetation of this zone covering vast areas of salt flats in both the littoral and inland areas where there is high salinity and a high water table. For example, extensive stands occur on the fringes of the Kavirs of the Central Plateau of Iran and there are large marshes on the Bushahr coastal plain in Bandar Abbas and on the margins of Lake Darya yi Namak at the northern edge of the Great Kavair south of Semnan. These marshes are centers of diversity for Chenopodiaceae, which in addition to Halocnemum strobilaceum commonly include Halotis occulta, Salsola gemmascens and Suaeda aegyptiaca. Other characteristic species are the grass Aeluropus lagopoides and many endemic or near endemic taxa like Bienertia cycloptera, Halocharis sulphurea and Salsola arbuscula (Chenopodiaceae), Heliotropium samoliflorum (Boraginaceae), Limonium carnosum (Plumbaginaceae) and Reaumuria persica (Tamaricaceae).

Armeno-Iranian Tamarix Saltmarsh

Halophytic vegetation dominated by various species of Tamarix is, after Halocnemum saltmarsh, the second most abundant vegetation of saline soils, particularly in saline riverbeds, saline sandy soils and in the estuaries of the central depressions. Examples can be found on the edges of Lake Howz Sultan, on the northern fringes of the Great Kavir, and south of Shahrud and Orumieh Lake. Characteristic species include several endemic or near endemic Tamaricaceae such as Tamarix hispida and T. passerinoides. Other common species may include Alhagi maurorum and Prosopis farcta.  A variety of Tamarix associations or sub-associations have been recorded. On the foreshore and alluvial plains of the Persian Gulf (SW Iran) three types have been recognised – (Tamarix leptopetala saltmarsh), (Tamarix arceuthoides and Tamarix tetragyna saltmarsh), and (Tamarix leptopetal and Tamarix tetragyna saltmarsh), and on Orumieh Lake (NW Iran) a further three have been recognised – (Tamarix meyeri saltmarsh), (Tamarix meyeri and Tamarix octandra saltmarsh) and (Tamarix octandra saltmarsh). After Halocnemum saltmarsh, Tamarix saltmarsh, particularly (Tamarix meyeri saltmarsh) and (Tamarix. meyeri and Tamarix octandra)saltmarsh, is the most important vegetation unit at Orumieh.

South Iranian Saline Flat Formations

Saline flats are common on the coast in ancient lagoons such as Jiwani, Kalmat and Pasni, and in inland depressions such as Gabd and Parom. They usually have a very hard saline crust in the dry season that becomes muddy during the wet season. Not surprisingly much of these areas are devoid of vegetation and the high salt content limits the vegetation to salt tolerant species (halophytes). These are mainly members of the Chenopodiaceae like Halocnemum strobilaceum and Suaeda fruticosa and halophytic members of the Poaceae like Aeluropus lagopoides, Halopyrum aculeatum and Urochondra setulosa.


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