Momik: Noravank

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Noravank 4: Noravank Canyon Flora

Noravank Canyon Flora

Noravank canyon flora is very interesting and its preservation is of crucial importance because there you can find not only rare plants but also an entire row of wild relatives of rare endemic cultivated plants. They include the ancestors of Cultivated Pear (Pyrus caucasica), other endemic Pears (P. Takhtajanii, P. medvedevii), common Pear (P. salicifolia), Walnut, (Juglans regia), Wild Pistachio, (Pistacia mutica), Wild Grape (Vitis sylvestris), Wild Cherries, (Cerasus mahaleb, C. incana), an ancestor of Wild Plum and Almond (Prunus divaricata, Amygdalus fenzliana), eleagnus, (Elaeagnus anugustifolia), Wild Lentil, Vetch, Onion and other species.

In riparian small woodland along the Gnishik River banks there are rare species of Tamarix (Tamarix kotschyi) and more common T. ramosissima), Barberry (Berberis Vulgaris), Clematis (Clematis orientalis), and species of Hawthorn (rarely Crataegus meyeri, C. pallasii and more widely distributed C. orientalis, C. pentagyna).

On the rock tailings of the left bank of the Gnishik River you can find very rare species of endemic Tomanthea (Tomanthea daralaghezica, Cousinia daralaghezica), unique members of the Bellflower family (Michauxia laevigata) with inflorescence height of more than two metres, as well as other plants belonging to the family of Asteraceae (rare Serratula serratuloides, Jurinea arachoidea, J. pulchella, etc.).

There are the rarest species of the Bellflower family (Campanulaceae – Campanula coriacea, C. karakuschensis, C. takhtajanii), and dense pillows of elegant Red Carnation (Dianthus orientalis) on high limestone slopes of the canyon, in rock cracks.

Noravank canyon is home to many species of medicinal plants, among them Spreading Pellitory (Parietalia judaica, common name “sticky weed”) and Scrophularia (Scrophularia rupestris), a wonderful medicinal plant living in rock crevices, used as a homeopathic medicine to treat kidney stones. Another important medicinal plant, growing at the foot of high rock slopes, as well as in riparian tangles, is Bryonia Alba (bryony) a homeopathic pulmonary treatment for the “Armenian Disease”, which like the Greek or Jewish Disease, afflicts ancient cultures.

In the canyon you will also find many grey or black-barked trees. These are Celtis or Stone trees (Hackberry) (Celtis caucasicus, C. glabrata), hardwoods with a distinctive bark and heavy timber. The tree's wood is so heavy that it sinks in water—rare among trees. From ancient times the Celtis was considered sacred, ancestral Armenians believing the tree suppressed ghosts from performing mischief. Ancient Armenians used the heavy, black wood to make amulets, beads and other sacred items. A common use was in making the distinctive half-moon amulet worn around the neck of cattle.

The text was edited by Eleonora Gabrielyan the president of Armenian botanical society.