The flora of Turkmenistan includes over 2900 species of
higher plants that belong to 105 families. The dominant life forms are herbaceous plants
(2137 species), followed by 47 species of trees, 88 of shrubs, 44 of low shrubs, 46 of
semishrubs, and 238 species of low semishrubs. The plant communities with dominating
xerophytic low semishrubs and halophytes, and sparse groups of saxaul, as well as shrub
psammophyres, ephemers and ephemeroids define the landscape of the desert zone.
Turkmenistan possesses small areas covered with forests. There is an
area of 4.6 million hectares requiring reforestation. Of them, 4.2 million hectares require planting
and seeding, and at the rest area - contribution to natural forest rehabilitation.
More than 2900 species of vascular plants are found in the
very diverse landscapes of Turkmenistan. Of these, about 400 species are considered
economically useful. These species vary in the amount of their resources, variety of
useful properties, and prospects of their use. Especially rich in plant diversity is the
flora of Kopetdag, of which 332 species are endemic.
The perspective regions for the collection of wild medicinal plants
are mountainous areas of Turkmenistan (Kopetdag, Greater and Lesser Balkhans, and the
Turkmen part of the Kugitangtau) where many valuable species of medicinal and technical
plants are found: Horsetail Ephedra, Turkmen Juniper, Common St. John's Wort,
Acantbopbyllum, Ziziphora, etc.
Sacred bridle which is also considered a resource plant in
Turkmenistan is commonly found in the Central and Southwestern Kopetdag. The almond that
grows in the Kopetdag covering the area of more than 26.000 hectares gives almond nuts, which
can be used in food and medical industries. Fourteen species of briar roses can be also
named among useful plants of Turkmenistan due to their great practical value. The
horsetail ephedra, which contains the alkaloid ephedrine, also belongs to resource plants.
The large amount of ephedra occurs in the mountain gorges of the Greater Balkan
Nazarekerem, Youth camp "Patma" and Kopetdag (Meirnenchemshe, Karayalchi). Among
other useful wild plants of great importance, we should mention the Vavilov onion, fennel,
thorny capers, Turkestan rhubarb, Osage orange, hawthorn, groomer, and madder. For a long
time roots and rootstocks of madder have been used to extract red and bordeaux pigments
used in carpet making.
Considerable amount of plant resources is found in the valleys and
river floodplains of Turkmenistan. The tugai plant communities are an important source of
valuable and technical plants, especially in the AmuDarya River valley, which covers over
30,000 hectares. Among great variety of valuable wild plants growing in the AmuDarya valley, the
liquorice should be mentioned specially. Among the most valuable technical plants is the
saponine-containing Turkestan soapwort, an endemic plant of Central Asia.
very important resource plants in the floodplain are high-stem grasses such as the reed,
which is widely used by the population as a supplement construction material. The Turkmen
and Zarafshan junipers contain both food and medicinal components. Three species of the
wild barberry belong to the valuable food plants in Turkmenistan.