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May /mai 2015 – Botanical tour of Armenia / Voyage botanique en Arménie

Click on an image to enlarge it / Cliquez sur une image pour l’agrandir

High meadows above Tatev monastery
Les prairies d’altitude au-dessus du monastère de Tatev

Armenia, a country of high plateaus and mountain ranges, lies in the Caucasus region between the Black and Caspian Seas. Almost 90% of the land is over 1,000m and the average altitude is 1800m. The lowest point of the country, at less than 400m, lies in the north, and to the west is the highest point, Mount Aragats, rising to 4090m.

L’Arménie est un pays du Caucase caractérisé par des hauts plateaux et des chaines de montagnes élevées. Près de 90% du territoire se trouve à plus de 1000m d’altitude et l’altitude moyenne est de 1800m. Le point le plus bas du pays se situe dans le nord avec une altitude inférieure à 400m. A l’ouest, le point le plus élevé, le Mont Aragats culmine à 4090m.

Although Armenia represents only 16% of the Caucasus region it is very rich in biodiversity. More than half of all the Caucasian plant species grow here – about 3600 species distributed in 920 genera. Many of the endemic plants of the Caucasus can be found in Armenia and it is the country’s geographical position and relief which have provided such a diversity of plant habitats. These can be found at varying altitudes and include plains and semi-deserts, steppes, forests and alpine meadows.

Although Armenia represents only 16% of the Caucasus region it is very rich in biodiversity. More than half of all the Caucasian plant species grow here – about 3600 species distributed in 920 genera. Many of the endemic plants of the Caucasus can be found in Armenia and it is the country’s geographical position and relief which have provided such a diversity of plant habitats. These can be found at varying altitudes and include plains and semi-deserts, steppes, forests and alpine meadows.

Homo botanicus

The flora of the country has been cataloged in the 11 volumes of “The Flora of Armenia” published in 2010.

Our seven day botanical journey accompanied by botanist Anna Asatryan, our guide, Katharine Fedden, and local expert Marat Shakhbekyan, took us all around this fascinating country.

La flore arménienne a été répertoriée dans les 11 volumes de « La flore d’Arménie » achevée en 2010.

Notre visite botanique de sept jours accompagnés par la botaniste Anna Asatryan, notre guide, Katharine Fedden et expert local Marat Shakhbekyan, nous a pris tout autour de ce pays fascinant.

Map of Armenia showing our route
Carte d’Arménie avec notre Map of Armenia showing our route

Day 1: 26 May
Yerevan – Geghard – Garni – Yerevan

First stop / Premier arrêt
On the Yerevan – Garni road, 100m before the Charents Arch (alt.1650m)
A la sortie de Yerevan, vers Garni, 100m avant l’Arc de Tcharentz (alt.1650m)

Adonis aestivalis (Ranunculaceae)
Ajuga chamaepitys (Lamiaceae)
Astragalus caraganae (Fabaceae)
Astragalus chardinii (Fabaceae)
Bungea trifida (Scrophulariaceae)
Cerinthe minor (Boraginaceae)
Eremostachys laciniata (Lamiaceae)
Gladiolus atroviolaceus (Iridaceae)
Glaucium corniculatum (Papaveraceae)
Gundelia tournefortii (Asteraceae)
Iris elegantissima (Iridaceae)
Ixiolirium tataricum (Amaryllidaceae)
Linum austriacum (Linaceae)
Malabaila dasyantha (Apiaceae)
Nonea armeniaca (Boraginaceae)

Also seen:
Cruciata laevipes (Rubiaceae)
Scutellaria sp. (Scrophulariaceae)
Silene sp. (Caryophyllaceae)

Second stop / Deuxième arrêt
100m further on at the Charents Arch (alt. 1600m) / 100 m plus loin, à l’Arc de Tcharentz (alt. 1600m)

Inside the arch, listening to Anna’s explanation of Armenian flora
En-dessous de l’arc, à l’écoute de l’exposition d’Anna de la flore d’Arménie
Papaver macrostomum (Papaveraceae)
Verbascum saccatum (Scrophulariaceae)
…and in close up / … et en gros plan

Third stop / Troisième arrêt
Between Geghadir et Garni. Grassland steppe (alt. 1550m) / Entre Geghadir et Garni. Paysage de steppes (alt. 1550m)

Acantholimon sp (Plumbaginaceae)
Anchusa azurea (Boraginaceae)
Gundelia tournefortii (Asteraceae)
Onosma sericeae (Boraginaceae)
Linum nodiflorum (Linaceae)
Malabaila dasyantha (Apiaceae)
Onobrychis michauxii (Fabaceae)
Salvia suffruticosa (Lamiaceae)

And by the side of the street in the village of Garni: / Et en bord de rue dans le village de Garni:

Symphytum caucasicum (Boraginaceae)

Texte: Annie Nivière
Photos: Elisabeth Gratraud, Chantal Maurice, Annie Nivière, Hubert Nivière, Christine Daniels

Day 2: 27 May
Yerevan – Mont Aragats – Spitak pass – Vanadzor – Dilijan

Departure towards Mount Aragats, an extinct volcano which, at 4090m is the highest mountain in Armenia. On the climb towards the Amberd fort the road traversed wooded areas where we saw malus in flower, pyrus, sorbus, pines, juniper and Quercus macrantha.

Départ en direction du Mont Aragats, volcan éteint qui, avec 4090 m, est la plus haute montagne d’Arménie. En montant vers le Fort Hamberd, la route traverse des zones boisées avec malus en fleur, pyrus, sorbus, pinus, juniperus et Quercus macranthera.

Juniperus depressa (Cupressaceae)

Above the wooded area the grasslands were covered in blue and yellow flowers.

Au dessus de la zone boisée, les prairies sont colorées en bleu et jaune.

Bleu : Myosotis alpestris (Boraginaceae) + jaune : Ranunculus sceleratus (Ranunculaceae)
Prairie colorée en jaune par Ranunculus sceleratus (Ranunculaceae) + Primula veris (Primulaceae)
Myosotis alpestris (Boraginaceae)
Pedicularis sibthorpii (Scrophulariaceae)
Primula veris

First stop / Premier arrêt
Fort Amberd and flora at the site / Fort Hamberd et exploration botanique du site (alt. 2300m)

7th century fortress and 11th century Armenian church
Fortresse du 7ème siècle et église arménienne du 11ème
Cerinthe minor (Boraginaceae)
Ferula orientalis (Apiaceae)
Geranium tuberosum (Geraniaceae)
Myosotis alpestris (Boraginaceae)
Nectaroscordum tripedale en bouton (Liliaceae)
Nepeta mussini (Lamiaceae) et Cruciata laevipes
Nectaroscordum tripedale en bouton (Liliaceae)
Solenanthus stamineus (Boraginaceae)
Spiraea hypericifolia (Rosaceae)

Valeriana alliariifolia (Valerianaceae)
Viburnum lantana (Caprifoliaceae)

Second stop / Deuxième arrêt
On the return to the main road, a stop to admire Tulipa julia / Au retour, arrêt pour Tulipa julia (alt. 2200 m)

Yazidi shepherd camp
Campement de bergers Yazidi
Ajuga orientalis (Lamiaceae)
Corydalis persica (Papaveraceae)
Dactylorhiza romana (Orchidaceae)
Geranium tuberosum (Geraniaceae)
Nepeta mussini (Lamiaceae)
Ornithogalum sigmoideum (Liliaceae)

Globularia trichosantha (Plantaginaceae)
Orchis mascula (Orchidaceae)
Tulipa julia (Liliaceae)

Third stop / Troisième arrêt
Still on the way back from Fort Amberd, another stop to look at high altitude flora (alt. 2230 m)
Toujours en revenant de Fort Hamberd pour explorer la flore des prairies d’altitude (alt. 2230 m)

Ajuga orientalis (Lamiaceae)
Astragalus microcephalus (Fabaceae)
Bellevalia pycnantha (Liliaceae)
Ferula orientalis (Apiaceae) – Fort Hamberd
Iris caucasica (Iridaceae)
Muscari caucasicum (Liliaceae)

Muscari neglectum (Liliaceae)
Ranunculus sceleratus (Ranunculaceae)
Scrophularia chrysantha (Scrophulariaceae)
Scrophularia sp (Scrophulariaceae)
Solenanthus stamineus (Boraginaceae)
Veronica gentianoides (Scrophulariaceae)

Also seen:
Myosotis alpestris (Ranunculaceae)
Ornithogalum sigmoideum (Liliaceae)

Fourth stop / Quatrième arrêt
A quick stop a little further on to view an endemic ornithogalum (alt. 2300m)
Stop rapide un peu plus loin pour voir un ornithogale endémique (alt. 2300m)

Ornithogalum gabrielianae (Liliaceae)

Fifth stop / Cinquième arrêt
Picnic stop / Pour pique-niquer (alt. 2000m)

In the afternoon we continued towards Spitak, Vanadzor et Dilijan, crossing Spitak Pass at 2378m.
L’après-midi, route vers Spitak, Vanadzor et Dilijan. Passage de Spitak Pass (alt. 2378 m) .

Sixth stop / Sixième arrêt
Stop on the second hairpin bend of the descent. Flowers growing on a very steep slope.
Stop au 2ème lacet de la descente (2100m). Dans les prairies en forte pente.

Anemone fasciculata (Ranunculaceae) blanches…
…et roses.
Caltha polypetala (Ranunculaceae)
Dactylorhiza euxina (Orchidaceae)
Pedicularis wilhemsiana (Scrophulariaceae)
Geum rivale (Rosaceae)
Iris furcata (Iridaceae)
Puschkinia scillioides (Liliaceae)

Seventh stop / Septième arrêt
Several bends further down, a stop to see Iris furcata in a meadow
Quelques virages plus bas, pour voir Iris furcata dans une prairie (alt. 2000m)

Iris furcata in a meadow
Cerastium dichotomum (Caryophyllaceae)

Euphorbia sp1 (Euphorbiaceae)
Pedicularis wilhemsiana (Scrophulariaceae)
Salvia staminea (Lamiaceae)
Pedicularis sibthorpii (Scrophulariaceae)
Polygala anatolica (Polygalaceae)
Thlaspi huetii (Brassicaceae)
Veronica gentianoides (Scrophulariaceae)

Eighth stop / Huitième arrêt
After Spitak to look at Iris paradoxa / Après Spitak pour Iris paradoxa (1500m)

Iris paradoxa (Iridaceae)
Nonea pulla (Boraginaceae)
Salvia verbascifolia (Lamiaceae)

Also seen:
Artemisia absinthium (Asteraceae)

Texte: Annie Nivière
Photos: Elisabeth Gratraud, Chantal Maurice, Annie Nivière, Hubert Nivière, Christine Daniels


Day 3: 28 May
Dilijan – Forest Park – Makaravank – Dilijan

Morning in Dilijan National Park for a forest walk from the village of Aghavnavank (alt.1100 – 1250m)

Matinée dans le Dilijan National Park pour une marche en forêt au départ de Aghavnavank (altitude de 1100 à 1250m)

Walking through Aghavnavank / Traversant Aghavnavank

Leaving the main road, before and after the village:

Au départ du chemin, avant et après le village:

Anthriscus cerefolium (Apiaceae)
Cynoglossum officinale (Boraginaceae)
Hyoscyamus niger (Solanaceae)
Papaver arenarium (Papaveraceae)
Paliurus spina-christi (Rhamnaceae)
Scutellaria orientalis (Lamiaceae)

In the forest / Dans la forêt

12c Chapel of Aghavnavank monastery
Chapelle du monastère Aghavnavank (12eme siècle)
Acer campestre (Aceraceae)
Carpinus betulus (Betulaceae)
Corylus avellana (Betulaceae) – Noisetier
Taxus baccata (Taxaceae) – If or Yew tree

Other trees present:
Fagus orientalis (Fagaceae)
Fraxinus excelsior (Oleaceae)
Juglans regia (Juglandaceae)
Tilia caucasica (Tiliaceae)

Herbaceous plants under the trees / Parmi la flore herbacée du sous-bois:

Ajuga reptans (Lamiaceae)
Dryopteris filix-mas (Polypodiaceae)
Alliaria petiolata (Brassicaceae)
Arum orientale (Araceae)
Euphorbia macroceras (Euphorbiaceae)
Lamium album (Lamiaceae)
Neottia nidus-avis (Orchidaceae)
Saxifraga cymbalaria (Saxifragaceae)

In the afternoon we travelled to the monastery of Makaravank, first in the coach, then in a minibus, along a rutted track, in a violent rainstorm. After the visit to the monastery there were two stops by the roadside to take photographs of Azerbaijan, just across the valley. At the second stop we had a quick exploration of a meadow.

L’après-midi, route vers le monastère de Makaravank d’abord en bus, puis en minibus sur une mauvaise piste, sous une violente pluie d’orage. Au retour de la visite du monastère, deux arrêts au bord de la piste pour faire des photos de l’Azerbaïdjan tout proche. Au 2ème arrêt, rapide exploration de la prairie.

A rutted track / Une mauvaise piste
Makaravank monastery / Le monastère de Makaravank
Echium russicum (Boraginaceae)
Orchis coriophora (Orchidaceae)
Orchis purpurea (Orchidaceae)
Steveniella satyrioides (Orchidaceae)

Also seen:
Anacamptis pyramidalis Orchidaceae) (in bud / en bouton)

Texte: Annie Nivière
Photos: Elisabeth Gratraud, Chantal Maurice, Annie Nivière, Hubert Nivière, Christine Daniels


Day 4: 29 May
Dilijan – Sevan botanical garden – Artanish peninsula – Tsapatagh

From Dilijan, crossing the Sevan pass on route to Lake Sevan.

De Dilijan, en route pour le lac Sevan en passant par Sevan Pass.

First stop
After the tunnel we stopped to walk in a lily gorge, crossing the river in 4×4 vehicles. (alt. 2000m).

Premier arrêt
Après le tunnel, marche dans la gorge des lis, après avoir franchi la rivière en 4×4 (alt. 2000m).

Crossing the river to the lily gorge
Traversant la rivière en route pour la gorge des lis
Photographer and assistant in a field of anemones
Le photographe et son assistante dans un champ d’anémones
Anemone fasciculata (Ranunculaceae)
Arnebia pulchra (Boraginaceae)
Caltha polypetala (Ranunculaceae)
Cerastium sp (Caryophyllaceae)
Cruciata laevipes (Rubiaceae)
Euphorbia glaberrima (Euphorbiaceae)
Fritillaria caucasica (Liliaceae)
Polygala sp. (Polygalaceae)
Primula pallasiana et Primula veris (Primulaceae)

Muscari sp. (Liliaceae)
Puschkinia scillioides (Liliaceae)
Veronica sp. (Scrophulariaceae)
Lilium armenum en bouton (Liliaceae)
Pulsatilla albana subsp. armena (Ranunculaceae)
Veratrum album (Liliaceae)

Also seen:
Ajuga orientalis (Lamiaceae)
Arabis sp. (Brassicaceae)
Iris furcata (Iridaceae)
Isatis tinctoria (Brassicaceae)
Ornithogalum sigmoideum (Liliaceae)
Pedicularis sibthorpii (Scrophulariaceae)
Pedicularis wilhemsiana (Scrophulariaceae)

Second stop
Visit to Sevan botanical garden, guided by its director
The botanical garden at Sevan was set out in 1944, on 6.5 hectares of land. At an altitude of 2000m the climatic conditions are typical of the Sevan region – dry, with significant seasonal temperature fluctuations, hot sunny summers and very cold winters.

Deuxième arrêt
Visite du Jardin botanique de Sevan en compagnie de son directeur
Le Jardin Botanique de Sevan a été créé en 1944 sur 6,5 hectares. Avec une altitude de 2000 m, les conditions climatiques sont typiques de la région de Sevan : climat aride, importantes fluctuations des températures selon les saisons, fort ensoleillement l’été, hiver très froid.

There are 420 types of plant in the garden, some natives, some from North America, China and central Asia, including 225 varieties of trees. Cypresses, pines, maples, birch, barberries, honeysuckle, legumes and roses are particularly well represented. The garden’s objective is to create scientific collections in order to study how different species adapt to the difficult Armenian climatic conditions with a view to using them as trees for managed forests and as ornamental plants. The garden also plays an educational role.

Le jardin compte 420 espèces, natives ou introduites d’Amérique du Nord, Chine, Asie Centrale… dont 225 espèces d’arbres. Les familles des Cupressaceae, Pinaceae, Aceraceae, Betulaceae, Berberidaceae, Loniceraceae, Fabaceae et Rosaceae sont particulièrement bien représentées. L’objectif du jardin botanique est de créer des collections scientifiques pour étudier l’adaptation d’espèces à des conditions climatiques difficiles afin de promouvoir leur utilisation dans les secteurs forestier et décoratif. Il a également un but éducatif.

A tree-lined avenue in Sevan botanical garden
Une allée arborée dans le jardin botanique de Sevan

After a picnic lunch in the garden, we set off for the Artanish peninsula on the north side of Lake Sevan. On route, on the lower slopes of the hills, we saw numerous Iris paradoxa and dark pink cushions of Onobrychis cornuta.

Après le pique-nique dans le jardin, départ pour la Péninsule d’Artanish, au bord du Lac Sevan. Avant d’arriver à la péninsule, sur les bas-côtés de la route, nombreux Iris paradoxa. Les pentes sont couvertes par des coussins rose foncé d‘Onobrychis cornuta.

Hillsides covered in cushions of dark pink Onobrychis cornuta.
Pentes couvertes par des coussins rose foncé d’Onobrychis cornuta

Third stop
By the roadside, for a quick exploration of the flora, before setting off in minibuses along a rough track onto the Artanish peninsula (1920m).

Troisième arrêt
En bord de route pour une rapide exploration, avant de prendre une piste défoncée en minibus pour la péninsule d’Artanish (altitude 1920m).

.

Androsace villosa (Primulaceae)
Onobrychis cornuta (Fabaceae)

Fourth stop / Quatrième arrêt
Alongside the track / En bord de piste

Alyssum tortuosum (Brassicaceae)
Astragalus cornutus (Fabaceae)
Sedum caucasicum (Crassulaceae)
Sempervivum sp. (Crassulaceae)
Spiraea hypericifolia (Rosaceae)

Also seen:
Geranium tuberosum (Geraniaceae)
Nepeta mussini (Lamiaceae)
Ornithogalum sigmoideum (Liliaceae)
Scutellaria orientalis (Lamiaceae)

Fifth stop / Cinquième arrêt
Exploration of a wide valley, dotted with shrubs / Exploration d’un grand vallon parsemée d’arbustes (alt.1920m à 1980m)

View of Lake Sevan from the hilltop
Vue du lac Sevan du sommet d’une colline
Adonis wolgensis (Ranunculaceae)
Androsace villosa (Primulaceae)
Astragalus sp. (Fabaceae)
Astragalus cornutus (Fabaceae)
Berberis orientalis (Berberidaceae)
Cynoglossum officinale (Boraginaceae)
Ephedra procera (Ephedraceae)
Echium russicum (Boraginaceae)
Iris pumila (Iridaceae)
Helianthemum nummularium (Cistaceae)
Muscari tenuiflorum (Liliaceae)
Salvia modesta (Lamiaceae)
Verbascum phoeniceum (Scrophulariaceae)

Also seen:
Adonis aestivalis (Ranunculaceae)
Ajuga orientalis (Lamiaceae)
Arenaria sp.
Geranium tuberosum (Geraniaceae)
Juniperus depressa (Cupressaceae)
Linum nervosum (Linaceae)
Onobrychis michauxii (Fabaceae) not in flower / non fleuri
Scabiosa micrantha (Dipsacaceae)
Sedum caucasicum (Crassulaceae)
Spiraea crenata (Rosaceae)
Spiraea hypericifolium (Rosaceae)
Ziziphora rigida (Lamiaceae) not in flower / non fleuri

Sixth stop / Sixième arrêt
In a rocky area with numerous agamid lizards basking on the rocks / Dans une zone plus rocailleuse avec de nombreux « lézards » sur les rochers

Paralaudakia caucasia (Agamidae) – Caucasian agama
Prangos ferulacea (Apiaceae)
Scrophularia tournefortii (Scrophulariaceae)
Silene spergulifolia (Caryophyllaceae)

Texte: Annie Nivière
Photos: Elisabeth Gratraud, Chantal Maurice, Annie Nivière, Hubert Nivière, Christine Daniels

Day 5: 30 May
Tsapatagh – Selim Pass – Zorats Karer – Goris

Around the hotel, Consolida orientalis (Ranunculaceae) were flowering. Our minibus transport took us along the pot-holed road that runs along the east coast of Lake Sevan. Many Iris paradoxa were growing on the lower slopes.

Autour de l’Hôtel, quelques Consolida orientalis (Ranunculaceae). Transport en minibus sur la route défoncée qui longe le lac Sevan côté est. Sur les bas-côtés de la route, nombreux Iris paradoxa.

Consolida orientalis (Ranunculaceae)

First stop / Premier arrêt
To explore a large meadow / Pour explorer une grande prairie (alt.1900m)

Centaurea depressa (Asteraceae)
Onosma setosa (Boraginaceae)
Papaver arenarium (Papaveraceae)
Roemeria hybrida (Papaveraceae)
Verbascum georgicum (Scrophulariaceae)

We rejoined our coach at Martuni then set off for the Selim Pass.

Récupération du bus à Martuni et route vers Selim Pass.

Second stop / Deuxième arrêt
Before reaching the top of the pass, we made a quick stop to explore a high altitude meadow. / Avant Selim Pass, exploration rapide d’une prairie d’altitude (2300 m).

High altitude meadow / Prairie d’altitude avec Primula auriculata
Alchemilla sp (Rosaceae)
Geum rivale (Rosaceae)

Dactylorhiza euxina (Orchidaceae)
Dactylorhiza umbrosa (Orchidaceae)
Primula auriculata (Primulaceae)

Also seen:
Caltha polypetala (Ranunculaceae)
Cardamine uliginosa (Brassicaceae)

Just below the summit of the pass, a stop at the Selim Caravanserai, originally constructed in 1332, then a descent to a restaurant by a river, just before the junction with the Yeghegnazor road. After lunch we continued towards Goris

Arrêt au Caravanserai médiéval de Selim, construit 1332. En descendant de Selim Pass, repas au restaurant au bord de la rivière, avant le croisement de la route d’Yeghegnazor. Après le repas, route vers Goris.

Selim caravanserai

Third stop / Troisième arrêt
Between Yeghegnadzor and Saravan / Entre Yeghegnadzor et Saravan (alt.1300m)

Amygdalus fenzliana (Rosaceae)
Rhamnus pallasii (Rhamnaceae)
Eremostachys laciniata (Lamiaceae)
Onobrychis tournefortii (Fabaceae)
Stachys lavandulifolia (Lamiaceae)

Also seen:
Anchusa azurea (Boraginaceae)
Sedum caucasicum (Crassulaceae)

Fourth stop / Quatrième arrêt
The prehistoric archeological site of Zorats Karer / Site mégalithique de Zorats Karer (alt.1760m)

Zorats Karer
Site of 230 standing stones / Site de 230 menhirs
Gladiolus atroviolaceus (Iridaceae)
Iris lineolata (Iridaceae)
Phlomis tuberosa (Lamiaceae)

Texte: Annie Nivière
Photos: Elisabeth Gratraud, Chantal Maurice, Annie Nivière, Hubert Nivière, Christine Daniels

Day 6: 31 May
Goris – Monastère de Tatev – Bardzravan – Goris

On the road to Tatev monastery / Départ pour le monastère de Tatev

First stop / Premier arrêt

To take photographs of the monastery in the distance / Pour faire des photos du monastère au loin

Dictamnus albus (Rutaceae)
Linaria sp (Scrophulariaceae)

Second stop / Deuxième arrêt
We followed a footpath to the bottom of a gorge / En suivant le sentier au fond de la gorge (alt.1000m)

Adiantum capillus-veneris (Pteridaceae)
Ficus carica (Moraceae)
Periploca graeca (Asclepiadaceae)

Then a change, from the coach to 4x4s / Puis échange du bus contre des 4×4.

Third stop / Troisième arrêt
Above the Tatev monastery / Au dessus du monastère de Tatev

Plants noted:
Cerinthe minor (Boraginaceae)
Hyoscyamus niger (Solanaceae)

Then along a track in 4×4 vehicles for several kilometres, high above the monastery / Piste en 4×4 sur quelques kilomètres au dessus du monastère de Tatev.

Fourth stop / Quatrième arrêt
A walk through high altitude meadows / Marche pour explorer les prairies d’altitude (2000m)

Anna Asatryan, our botanical guide (centre), admiring the view with members of the group
Notre guide botanique, Anna Asatryan (au centre) et quelques membres du groupe admirent la vue
Centaurea cheiranthifolia (Asteraceae)
Coeloglossum viridis (Orchidaceae)
Echium russicum (Boraginaceae)
Genista transcaucasica (Fabaceae)
Geranium sanguineum (Geraniaceae)
Iris imbricata (Iridaceae)
Rosa sp (Rosaceae)
Orchis purpurea subsp caucasica (Orchidaceae)
Neotinea tridentata (Syn. Orchis tridentata)
(Orchidaceae)*
Orobanche sp (Orobanchaceae)
Orchis punctulata (Orchidaceae)**
Platanthera chlorantha (Orchidaceae)
Steveniella satyrioides (Orchidaceae)*

*Armenian Red List (endangered) / Liste rouge d’Armenie (en danger)
**Armenian Red List (vulnerable) / Liste rouge d’Armenie (vulnérable)

Also seen:
Adonis aestivalis (Ranunculaceae)
Alchemilla mollis (Rosaceae)
Dactylorhiza romana Orchidaceae)
Dactylorhiza urvilleana presque fané (Orchidaceae)
Gymnadenia conopsea en bouton (Orchidaceae)
Orchis mascula (Orchidaceae)
Pedicularis sibthorpii (Scrophulariaceae)
Primula veris défleuri (Primulaceae)

Fifth stop / Cinquième arrêt
Along the road back to the monastery / Le long de la piste en revenant vers le monastère

Plants noted:
Iris imbricata (Iridaceae)
Steveniella satyrioides (Orchidaceae)

Visit to Tatev monastery, returning by cable car, then by coach to Goris. / Visite du Monastère de Tatev. Retour en téléphérique. Route jusqu’à Goris.

Tatev monastery – founded in the 9th century
Le monastère de Tatev – fondé au 9ème siècle
Chantal and Annie in the cable car
Chantal et Annie dans la cabine du téléphérique

Texte: Annie Nivière
Photos: Elisabeth Gratraud, Chantal Maurice, Annie Nivière, Hubert Nivière, Christine Daniels

Day 7: 1 June
Goris – Noravank –Yerevan

First stop / Premier arrêt
A roadside walk between Saravan and Vayk / Marche le long de la route, entre Saravan et Vayk (alt.1350m)

Lathyrus sp (Fabaceae)
Onosma teritea (Borarinaceae)
Dianthus orientalis (Caryophyllaceae)
Ornithogalum sp (Liliaceae)
On the hillside / Sur la colline: Pyrus salicifolia (Rosaceae)
Rosularia sp (Crassulaceae)

Second stop / Deuxième arrêt
Visit to Noravank monastery / Visite du Monastère de Noravank (alt.1500m)

Noravank monastery (13th century)
Monastère de Noravank (13eme siècle)
Coronilla varia (Fabaceae)
Stipa arabica (Poaceae)
Eremostachys laciniata (Lamiaceae)
Pistacia mutica (Anacardiaceae)

Verbascum sp2 (Scrophulariaceae)

Also seen:
Amygdalus fenzliana (Rosaceae)
Ziziphus jujuba (Rhamnaceae)

Third stop / Troisième arrêt
From Noravank monastery we walked down the road for several hundred metres. / Depuis le Monastère de Noravank, descente à pied le long de la route sur quelques centaines de mètres.

Astragalus caraganae (Fabaceae)

Stachys inflata (Lamiaceae)

Then, lunch in a cave restaurant. / Repas au restaurant dans une grotte.

Fourth stop / Quatrième arrêt
After Karki, on the road towards Yerevan / Après Karki, sur la route vers Yerevan. (alt.1300m)

Astragalus szovitsii (Fabaceae)
Phelypaea tournefortii (Orobanchaceae) parasite d’Achillea et de Tanacetum
Rhamnus pallasii (Rhamnaceae)
Onobrychis buhseana (Fabaceae)
Stachys inflata (Lamiaceae)

Thank you very much, Anna, Katharine and Marat for a wonderful trip. / Merci beaucoup à Anna, Katharine et Marat pour un voyage merveilleux.

Anna
Katharine
Marat

Texte: Annie Nivière
Photos: Elisabeth Gratraud, Chantal Maurice, Annie Nivière, Hubert Nivière, Christine Daniels


Impressions of Armenia / Impressions de l’Arménie

Dusk was falling, and from the plane window one could see fields and roads with just the occasional car. Then, looming above the valley in which Yerevan sits, there was Mount Aragats, massive and snow-capped. The airport is modern and the only thing to strike one walking towards the baggage claim was a large poster showing a Turkish head under the year 1915 and the head of Adolf Hitler under 1945. Yes, this was the centenary of the genocide and one was later to see tee-shirts with a message about Armenian capacity to survive and on hoardings, the words ‘I Remember and Demand’.

AF1060 flight arrival at Zvartnots, May 25 2015 – Our adventure begins

Yerevan is such a mixture of the spanking new, of dilapidated houses with wooden balconies and of the metal and concrete detritus of Soviet times. The road into the city is a jumble of nightclubs and casinos, of snack shops, of Mercedes showrooms and then one feels the full weight of Soviet imperialism in the grand stone buildings of Republic Square.

Dilapidated houses
Republic Square

On the Tuesday morning we slowly shook off the lacklustre suburbs of the capital and found ourselves looking at irises on a slope from which we could see the massive form of Mount Aragats across the valley.

Mount Aragats in the distance

A visit to the Geghard monastery was followed by lunch in a private house set above the valley on the edge of which stands the Garni temple.

Geghard monastery – founded in the 4th century
The monastery beekeeper at work
Inside one of the churches
The monastery choir
Garni : lunch in a beautiful garden

There, as we were to see frequently, sat the merchants of large cakes, of home-made vodka and of apricot leather (known locally as ‘fruit bread’ since it has the same flat form as the main type of bread in the country, ‘lavash’).

The temple at Garni
Apricot leather and dried fruits

Later a tour of Yerevan revealed the ‘Cascades’, a very high, stepped flow of terraces descending to a new part of the city, the opera house and the Russian inspired leisure parks, with their cafes, friendly faces and play areas for children.

The Cascades
A friendly face in Tamanyan Street

The highlight of the evening was the arrival, in the hands of the restaurant manageress, of a large dish of ‘fruit rice’, while she performed a local dance.

Wednesday saw us leave Yerevan en route for Dilijan (the Switzerland of Armenia). We climbed through high meadows, where Yezidi herders had set up their camps of tents and rusting Russian trailers, to visit the fortress of Amberd, the only one to resist the Mongols.

Yezidi camp
The church of Amberd – 11th century

Everywhere there were streams and the impression was of a hillside in movement. Later, we stopped at a Russian village, the home of a particular religious group which Stalin had exiled and suddenly, everyone was tall and blond.

Streams winding through meadows covered in Ranunculus sceleratus

Dilijan is in thickly forested country and when we left the area on Friday we entered a tunnel on a mountain pass and on the other side found no trees, but a line of green hills. We pulled up to see some hillside flowers, but there was a river in the way. No problem, a four wheel drive vehicle appeared and ferried people across, four at a time.

Jock on the back of the 4×4

That evening we were lodged in another Tufenkian Group heritage hotel, close to Lake Sevan and were told that since the road south was impassable by coach, our coach would cut back north and meet us on the other side of the lake. Thus began a minibus journey over potholes and ruts as we moved south and then west to turn around the southern end of the lake. This was a perfect example of the efficient ad hoc organisation which marked our whole visit.

The ‘road’ around the southern end of the lake

In the evening, we wound our way down to the town of Goris, distinguished by its old stone houses, many with wooden balconies, and its water channels at the side of the road. In the nearby cliffs are troglodyte dwellings and the whole place is surrounded by mountains.

Next day, after a stop at the local bakery to buy lavash,

Making lavash
The oven

we set off for the Tatev monastery, sited, majestically, on its rock and backed by a cirque of mountains, many over 3000 meters.

Tatev monastery – 9th century

The next, and final, day we headed back to Yerevan, visiting the Noravank monastery and eating in a cave restaurant in the gorge below.

Noravank church – founded in 1205
The cave restaurant
Mint tea

One came away with impressions of an abundance of wild flowers, of the majesty of snow-capped mountains, of ancient monasteries. All around were streams, fruit trees, road-side produce and sheep and cattle making the transhumance. There are older, more soberly dressed people, but for the young, the tee-shirt is king and the promises on them – ‘All night long’ and ‘Count on an extra 87 miles per tank’, leave you with hope for Armenia.

Colourful wild flowers
Snow-capped mountains
Ancient monasteries

Mountain streams
Rare endemic plants
Rya Taza – vente d’herbes
Transhumance
The older generation…
…and the younger one

Text: Jason Spencer-Cooke
Photos: Hubert Nivière, Jock Shearer, Christine Daniels