Included here is much of the uplands and mountains of Central Asia including most of the Badghys, the Karabil Uplands, Afghanian Turkestan, Badakshan, the Paropamisus Range, the Safod Koh Range, western Hindu Kush, the Koh-i-Baba Range and the Kabul River Valley.

Turkestanian Juniper Forest

The dominant junipers here are Juniperus semiglobosa, J. seravschanica and J. turkestana. On the slopes of the Alai Mountains Juniperus pseudosabina appears to be the main species. These forests range from the lowland plain to an altitude of about 3300 m. At lower altitudes trees can attain 10-12 m in height, but are often reduced to shrubs of no more than about 2 m at higher altitudes. Many of the trees can reach great ages evidenced by many narrow annual rings. The shrub layer is not well developed but may comprise species such as Berberis heterophylla, Lonicera olgae, Ribes triste, Spiraea crenata and Sorbus tianschanika while Clematis alpina var. sibirica represents one of the few climbers. The herbaceous layer, on the other hand, is very rich and varied and has been described as nothing short of marvelous. It comprises several strata. Growing to heights of 20-30 cm are various flowering plants such as Cerastium dahuricum, Cortusa oliveri, Gentiana oliveri, Ligularia altaica, Ranunculus songoricus and Trollius songoricus. A middle layer of between 10-20 cm includes Adoxa moschatellina, Carum atropurpureum, Isopyrum anemonoides, Potentilla bifurca, the yellow flowered Viola uniflora, and the endemic or near endemic Astragalus myriophyllus (Fabaceae) and Psychrogeton turcestanicum (Asteraceae). At ground level there are various cespitose species such as the endemic Astragalus pamiro-alaicus (Fabaceae) and scattered throughout the herbaceous layer are various colourful bulbous plants like Fritillaria ruthenica, Gagea persica, Ixilirion pallasii and the endemic Crocus alatavicus (Iridaceae). Finally, the ground layer includes various annual species such as Euphrasia regelii, Gentiana leucomelaena, Lappula tenuis, Smelowskia sisymbrioides and a variety of bryophytes and lichens. At higher altitudes where the junipers become more bush-like the herbaceous vegetation becomes less abundant, but under and between the bushes there are often verdant carpets of annuals such as Galium songoricum and Veronica cardiocarpa, and scattered among the bushes are various taller herbaceous plants like the endemic Lagochilus paulsenii (Lamiaceae) and Polygonum acerosum (Polygonaceae).


Chemonics International Inc. Washington, DC. 2001. Biodiversity Assessment for Tajikistan. Submitted to USAID Central Asian Republics Mission, Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Fet, V. & Atamuradov, K. I. 1994. Biogeography and Ecology of Turkmenistan. Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Paulsen, O. 1920. Studies in the Vegetation of Pamir. In: The Second Danish Pamir Expedtion. Ed. O. Olufsen. Gyldendalske Boghandel. Nordisk Forlag. Copenhagen.