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The history of Mandragora turkomanica (Solanaceae)

The history of Mandragora turkomanica (Solanaceae) In 1938 a new species, Mandragora turcomanica O. Mizgir., was discovered in the Sumbar river valley near the SovietIranian border in the nowadays Republic of Turkmenistan. The prevailing hypothesis of its origin was that M. turcomanica is a species that survived in a refuge between the Mediterranean and Himalayan parts of the now disjunct genus range. Meteorological observation conducted by the author in the area occupied by the species revealed that the presumed high frost tolerance of the species was exaggerated. The plants of the Sumbar Valley could survive only in a narrow altitude belt due a very specific combination of favorable microclimate and soil. However, the present distribution of mandrake plants in Turkmenistan cannot explain why the plants were never observed in the southern valleys of the TurkmenKhorasan range of northern Iran, which has a similar landscape to the Sumbar Valley and a considerably warmer climate. Cultivation and usage of the Turkmenian mandrake as a medicinal plant in Iran, its name halom and the fact that all known locations of Turkmenian mandrake match the traces of ancient irrigation in the Sumbar Valley support the hypothesis that Turkmenian mandrake could be the holy plant the ancient Iranians called Haoma, repeatedly mentioned in the Avesta (the collection of sacred texts of the ancient Aryan religion known as Zoroastrianism). The introduction of mandrake currently growing in Sumbar Valley from the other region is supported by the species biology, i.e. the lack of dispersal of its fruits by birds which strongly limits its potential distribution, and by a recently reported high genetic similarity of Turkmenian mandrake with plants from Israel. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Israel Journal of Plant Sciences Brill

The history of Mandragora turkomanica (Solanaceae)

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0792-9978
DOI
10.1080/07929978.2016.1177956
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In 1938 a new species, Mandragora turcomanica O. Mizgir., was discovered in the Sumbar river valley near the SovietIranian border in the nowadays Republic of Turkmenistan. The prevailing hypothesis of its origin was that M. turcomanica is a species that survived in a refuge between the Mediterranean and Himalayan parts of the now disjunct genus range. Meteorological observation conducted by the author in the area occupied by the species revealed that the presumed high frost tolerance of the species was exaggerated. The plants of the Sumbar Valley could survive only in a narrow altitude belt due a very specific combination of favorable microclimate and soil. However, the present distribution of mandrake plants in Turkmenistan cannot explain why the plants were never observed in the southern valleys of the TurkmenKhorasan range of northern Iran, which has a similar landscape to the Sumbar Valley and a considerably warmer climate. Cultivation and usage of the Turkmenian mandrake as a medicinal plant in Iran, its name halom and the fact that all known locations of Turkmenian mandrake match the traces of ancient irrigation in the Sumbar Valley support the hypothesis that Turkmenian mandrake could be the holy plant the ancient Iranians called Haoma, repeatedly mentioned in the Avesta (the collection of sacred texts of the ancient Aryan religion known as Zoroastrianism). The introduction of mandrake currently growing in Sumbar Valley from the other region is supported by the species biology, i.e. the lack of dispersal of its fruits by birds which strongly limits its potential distribution, and by a recently reported high genetic similarity of Turkmenian mandrake with plants from Israel.

Journal

Israel Journal of Plant SciencesBrill

Published: May 18, 2016

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