The Mystery ofAzhdahak
Examples of more than 35 plant families can be found in the Geghama mountain range alpine zone. Most of them are rare for Armenian flora and have adapted to unusual location of the range.
However the plant diversity at this high elevation is limited compared to those in lower elevations. Mostly plants are concentrated at the elevation, of 2700 meters. A distinguishing feature of these alpine meadows is dwarf vegetation that can blanket the plateaus and slopes. Alpine carpets are less diverse in wet habitats than in the drier and rocky areas.
On the mountain slopes it is possible to see large carpets of alpine Forget-Me-Nots (myosotis alpestris) which are part of the Boraginaceae plant family. Differ coloring depends on the amount of sunrays.
The bolder fields and other rocky microhabitats of the Geghama mountains have a unique flora. Plants typical of this zone include Fragile Fern (cystopteris fragilis), Chives (allium schoenoprasum), Mountain Crowberry (empetrum hermaphroditum - listed in the Red Book), Corydаlis (corydalis alpestris), Treacle-Mustard (erysimum gelidum) and Leopard's - Bane (doronicum oblongifolium).
Jurinea Moschus - the representative of the Compositae family, is one of the rarest plants in the world. It takes this plant 25 years to reach maturity and blossom, after which it dies.
The photos show the mentioned plants at various stages of growth. Before blossoming, each plant acquires unique coloring and shape depending on various factors such as location, maturity and even the amount of sunrays which reach even whilst under the late winter snow. They grow both on the grassy and sparse slopes.
Other plants found in the Geghama mountain region include Snowcap (arabis caucasica), Catsfoot (antennaria dioica), species of Dandelion (taraxacum stevenii, t. bessarabicum, t. ceratophorum), Red Everlasting (helichrysum pallasii - listed in the Red Book), species of Lady's-mantle (alchemilla grossheimii, a. retinervis, a. sericea), Alpine cinquefoil (potentilla crantzi), Sibbaldia (sibbaldia parviflora), Merendera Radde (merendera raddeana- listed in the Red Book), Locoweed (Oxytropis lazica), Vavilova (vavilova aucheri - listed in the Red Book), Moonwort (botrychium lunaria - listed in the Red Book), Anemone (pulsatilla albana), species of Bellflowers (campanula tridentata, c. stevenii), species of Rock jasmin (androsace villosa, a. armeniaca, a. raddeana).
Meadows of Sedge can be found throughout this area and grow regardless of the slope exposure, steepness, or rock substrata. Herbaceous plants commonly found growing with Sedges are the Bellflower (campanula aucher), Smartweed (polygonum alpinum). Swathes of dark blue flowers can be seen in Spring time such as the sub-species of Bitterwort (gentiana pontica) that easily grow at heights 2700 - 3500 meters above sea level.
A sub-species of Draba araratean (draba araratica) which was first discovered on the slopes of Mount Ararat is also found in the Geghama Mountains.
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In writing this paper, use was made of excerpts from the book "Alpine Vegetative cover of Armenia" by S.A. Baloyan.