Botanic unique object of Koitendag nature

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Mountain ridge of Koitendag, forming the south-west variation of the Pamir-Altai rock formation, stretches in the south- east of Turkmenistan. These are the highest mountains of our country and their high peak Ayry-baba raises by 3134 meters.

These unusually beautiful mountains formed with Jurassic limestone, which exits are marked with steep cornices and capes, gashed deep and narrow gorges. At the foot, the gorges come to deep ravines with riverbeds laid with pebbles, where ephemers, wormwoods, glassworts and mat-grasses are growing here and there. Koitendag gorges are usually waterless, only in some of them it is possible to find small rivulets, drying up by mid of summer. The local flora consists of rocky kinds of plants — subshrub and low herbs. Along the rivulets falling from the rocks, it is met the tender greenery of rare fern.

There is floristic rarity of the Turkmen nature on the foot of mountain ridge and «Trademark» of Koitendag — the largest in the Central Asia the natural common jujube grove, which numbers nearly two thousand trees of several hundreds of years. From time immemorial, the local people honor this place as sacred. Interesting legend is connected with its origin. According to this legend, very long ago, old traveler visited these places. In order to have a rest, he looked for spring and place to hide from summer heat. But near at hand, there was no shadow and water. Then, he stuck his crook into earth, where unusual sapling has grown and pure mountain spring run nearby. Much time has passed and wonderful grove has grown thick ...

Common jujube is quite rare and unusual wood species for mountainous flora of Turkmenistan. It is also called as the Chinese date, jujube, French plum or zazifus. This plant belongs to Frangula family. In April-May, thorny branches of the tree are covered with gold yellow, extremely fragrant star-shaped flowers with sweet smell. Its fruits are formed from July to September. By autumn, the vegetative sprouts fully complete their formation and fruit-bearing ones fall off immediately after fruit ripening. Therefore, the dendrologists and botanists call this plant not deciduous but branch fall. In September, the ripened fruits have a shape of pulpy, brown —reddish nutrient fruits with stone fruit inside. Local people call them arnap.

«Those, who use zizifus in food, never consult a doctor, because the illnesses are past him», — the folk healers affirm. Unabi was contained into publication «Medicinal plants of Turkmenistan», which author is the head of our state, Academician of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan, Doctor of Medicine, Professor Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

Really, the fruits of this tree have healing properties, which are confirmed with data of ancient medical written sources. Avicenna wrote that unabi helps for treatment of lung diseases, pectoral pains, and kidney diseases. In the Tibetan medicine, zazifus is one of ten most valuable medicinal plants, which is essential component for making all possible medical drugs — infusions, ointments, mixture of herbs. At present, the plant is among the representatives with strongly marked medicinal properties of intense influence. At that, it was experimentally proved that maximum medicinal properties are shown by raw material grown in the mountainous area. Therefore, no wonder that highland grove is honored from time immemorial as granting health and spiritual purification.

Owing to its biochemical properties, unabi fruits are one of popular medications in the folk medicine. The Turkmen healers in their medical practice used bark, leaves, roots, fruits and seeds of the plant. Fruits in combination with other medical plants were applied for treatment of bronchial asthma, rheumatism and fever. The bark of the plant us applied as astringent, seeds — as sedative agent. Fruits have antibacterial effect. Decoction from them was used for treatment of hypertension, anaemia, pectoral pains, asthma, and smallpox, as analgesic and for treatment of liver diseases. The fruits of unabi contain sugar, organic acids, tanning agents, vitamin C, carotene, rutin and coumarin. The leaves accumulate alkaloids, glycoside, saponins, tarry matters. Seeds contain up to 33% of non-drying fatty oil. Roots of the tree include tanning agents, which are used in the process of tanning and as dye stuff for natural silk in various tints of yellow color. Timber of zizifus is well for making musical instruments.

That’s not the half of it. The fruits, which are applied in perfumery and pharmaceutical industry, are also of great food value. They are used in the food in fresh, candied, dried and even marinated. They are used for making teas vitamins added, compotes, jam, candied fruits, fruit jelly and marshmallow sticks.

Galina Vlasenko,
Candidate of Biology

Turkmenistan: golden age

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