Hyrcanian Alnus-Pterocarya Forest

These ancient yet ill-defined forests are confined mostly to damp and poorly drained soils on the coastal plain. They are characterized by the near endemic Alnus subcordata (Betulaceae) and Pterocarya fraxinifolia (Juglandaceae). Common associates include Acer insigne, Albizia julibrissin, Alnus glutinosa, Buxus sempervirens, Celtis australis, Diospyros lotus, Ficus carica, Fraxinus excelsior, Melia azedarach, Mesilus germanica, Morus nigra, Paliurus spina-christa, Prunus laurocerasus, Punica granatum and Salix fragilis, while common endemic or near endemic species are Gleditsia caspica (Fabaceae), Populus caspica (Salicaceae), and Prunus caspica (Rosaceae). The shrub layer comprises Andrache colchica, Hypericum androsaemum, Sambucus edulis and several endemic taxa like Epimedium pinnatum subsp. pinnatum (Berberidaceae), Ruscus hyrcanus (Liliaceae) and Teucrium hyrcanus (Lamiaceae). These forests are also characterised by the presence of numerous lianas and climbers, which occur on many of the trees and shrubs - typical species are Clematis vitalba, Hedera colchica, Jasminum officinale, Peroploca graeca, Rubus caesius, Smilax excelsa, Solanum dulcamara, Tamus communis and Vitis sylvestris.


Hyrcanian Zelkova-Parrotia Forest

These forests, dominated by Zelkova carpinifolia and the near endemic Parrotia persica (Brassicaceae), are primarily confined to the foothills and lower mountain slopes up to about 800 m. For a long time Parrotia was thought to be an endemic Hyrcanian genus, but a small stand of P. persica was discovered in the Alazab Valley near Kutkashen (Azerbaijan) in the early 1970s. Other important tree species are Albizzia julibrissin, Carpinus betulus, C. caucasica, Diospyros lotus and the endemic or near endemic Acer velutinum (Aceraceae), Ficus hyrcana (Moraceae) and Quercus castaneifolia (Fagaceae), while understory species frequently include Cornus meyeri, Crataegus pentagyra, Danaë racemosa, Frangula alnus, Prunus divaricata together with the endemic Ilex hyrcana (Aquifoliaceae) and Ruscus hyrcanus (Ruscaceae). Lianas typically include Hedera pastuchowii, Periploca graeca and Smilax excelsa.


Hyrcanian Fagus orientalis Montane Forest

These upland beech forests occupy some of the most humid parts of the Hyrcanian uplands usually between altitudes of about 600 to 1200m. The few arboreal associates include Acer cappadocicum, A. insigne, Fraxinus excellsior, Mespolus germanica and Taxus buccata. The ground layer is typically poor in species but may include Asperula odorata, Cardamine bulbifera, Fragaria vesca, Filipendula ulmaria, Geranium robertianum, Geum urbanum, Lamium luteum, Lathraea squamaria, Phyllitis scolopendium, Potentilla reptans, Ranunculus constantinopolitanus, Sanicula europaea, Stellaria holostea and Viola odorata. At heights above 1200m the forest becomes very stunted and its here that the endemic Acer hyrcanum (Aceraceae) is encountered.


Hyrcanian Quercus macranthera Sub-Alpine Forest

These more xeric forests are confined to the higher mountain zones mainly between elevations of 1600-3000 m. Among the comparatively rich assemblage of associated low trees and shrubs are Berberis integerrima, Celtis tournefortii, Cotoneaster racemiflora, Juniper communis, Lonicera caucasica, Pyrus cordata, Rhamnus spathulifolia, Sorbus aria, S. boisseri, S. torminalis, Ulmus monyana, Viburnum lantana, and the two endemic or near endemic species Acer hyrcanum (Aceraceae) and Pyrus boissieriana (Rosaceae). A version of this type of forest occurs in the high altitude, rocky forest of Dodangeh south of Sari. This is the last refuge of the endemic tree Betula pendula (Betulaceae). Studies show that this species and Corylus avellana are relicts of an ancient more extensive Hyrcanian forest that has now largely disappeared. Species found associated with these Betula stands include a rich variety of endemic taxa such as Alchemilla farinosa (Asteraceae), Cortusa matthiola subsp. iranica (Primulaceae), Delphinium elbursense var. elbursense (Ranunculaceae), Scabiosa hyrcanica (Dipsaceae), Semervivum iranicum (Crassulaceae) and Stachys persica (Lamiaceae).


Hyrcanian Cupressus sempervirens Forest

These rare cypress forests are thought to be relict stands of a once much more extensive forest of ancient Mediterranean vegetation that probably pre-dates much of the current Hyrcanian vegetation.


Hyrcanian Steppe and Xeric Dwarf Semi-Shrub Zone

Occupying an altitudes of between 1600-2300 m are steppe formations dominated by Festuca valesiaca, Koeleria cristata, Phleum phleoides, Stipa lessingiana and S. tirsa. Also characteristic of this zone are thorn-cushion communities of Astragalus aureus, A. lagurus and Onobrychis cornuta.

Further information required



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