Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Plants of Armenia

Recently I was in Armenia for a collection trip and I thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight the fruits of Armenia. Due to Armenia's geography and lack of a coast, there are no tropical regions, therefore they do not cultivate tropical plants outdoors. However, Armenia does have some sub-tropics type regions in which some nice and unusual fruits are cultivated. Many common and popular fruits in Armenia include pears, apples, figs, apricots, peaches, grapes, and pomegranates. It is thought that Armenia was the origin of cultivation of grapes leading to the production of the world's first wine! Therefore grapes have an important place in Armenia's history and are still cultivated in many areas across the country.

Across the country apricots are plentiful and it is Armenia's national fruit. It's not surprising that Armenian's are crazy about apricots; Armenians pride themselves with their quality apricots which are absolutely delicious. In addition to apricots, Armenians favor the pomegranate. In Armenia there is much myth and lore surrounding pomegranates, and they are used as a symbol of fertility. The Armenians are also known for making a sweet pomegranate wine.


This is just one example of the many fresh fruit stands that are abundant across the country. During the summer the most common fruits are apricots, apples, pears and figs.

Armenia is host to many wild populations of Rosaceae, and many in the genus Rosa. Rose hips are also cultivated in Armenia, and although these fruits are excellent in a variety of culinary uses, I think I like them best fresh off the bush! This species (Rosa hemisphaerica) is unusual in having bright orange hips, which are especially delicious.

Armenia's Institute of Botany and Botanical Gardens in Yerevan has suffered since the collapse of the Soviet Union, as has the whole country. The garden still seeks financial aid and investment from foreign resources, but it is not enough to repair some of it's crumbling infrastructure.
The greenhouse at Armenia's Botanical Gardens in Yerevan is still functional to a certain extent, although many windows are missing and the structure is in need of repair.

The greenhouse has many interesting specimens including members of the family Juglandaceae. These are a couple of walnut fruits from the genus Juglans.

Although the institutes main greenhouse is in poor shape, there are other greenhouses at the gardens. This greenhouse contains many tropical houseplants and fruit trees in addition to cacti and succulents.


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