Finnish Museum of Natural History

Floristic studies in Kyrgyzstan

Curator Alexander Sennikov, Professor Emeritus Pertti Uotila
Foreign partner: Georgy Lazkov (Institute of Biology and Soil Science, Bishkek)

Inventories of plant diversity are still of a great importance for the Central Asian countries, which flora is as much rich as peculiar. According to the latest estimations, the flora of Kyrgyzstan numbers ca. 3900 species, of which about 10% are endemic to this country. Some of these endemics have narrow distribution areas, being confined to a few mountain ranges or even small valleys. The flora of Kyrgyzstan is still incompletely explored, and the existing treatments of many plant groups are much outdated and therefore highly unsatisfactory. Some genera were identified as most promising in discoveries, and the relevant new treatments had been started in herbarium collections and in the field.

Red clay and gypsum (versicolour) denudations along Kokomeren River; this type of landscape is the richest in endemics of vascular plants. Photo: A.Sennikov

The genus Cousinia Cass., one of the largest in Asteraceae, is represented in Kyrgyzstan by 70–80 species, many of them being endemic. Some of these species were established on the basis of single, very few or scattered collections and have not been properly described in comparison with their relatives. Many endemics have never been illustrated. This led to frequent misidentifications and misunderstanding of species limits and distribution areas. Experts on this genus are very few in the world. By 2013 detailed treatments of three sections of this genus in Kyrgyzstan are published, and others are in progress.

Cousinia minkwitziae is among the most horrid species of this genus in Kyrgyzstan. Photo: A.Sennikov

The genus Allium L. is species-rich in the country (over 85 species recorded), and new species of onions are being regularly described from the country. One species new to science, Allium formosum was brought to light by our expeditions.

Allium spathulatum, a narrow endemic of Fergana Range in Western Tian-Shan. Photo: G.Lazkov

The boreal Hieracium umbellatum is one of the rare species in the arid Kyrgyzstan. Photo: A.Sennikov            




             The genera Hieracium L. and Pilosella Hill are highly
             complicated because of apomixis. Although rather
             poorly represented in Kyrgyzstan (ca 20 species are
             estimated), these genera have never been studied
             particularly in this area.







The genus Cotoneaster Medik. is peculiar of the combination of infraspecific hybridization, apomixis and phenotypic plasticity. The number of its species in Kyrgyzstan is about 20–25. This woody genus is relatively well researched in Central Asia as a whole but never studied in detail in the country.

Cotoneasters may have an unusual palm-like shape in Kyrgyz Range. Photo: A.Sennikov

Since the distribution of many plant species in Kyrgyzstan is imperfectly known, field studies continuously bring new country records (and numerous records which are new to particular territories). In 2009–2013 we participated in four expeditions mostly to Western Tian-Shan and Alay Mountains. These territories surround the Fergana Valley, forming one of the most interesting hotspots of the species diversity in vascular plants.

The famous Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve harbours Cousinia knorringiae, a narrow endemic of Chatkal Range. Photo: A.Sennikov, G.Lazkov

A checklist of the vascular plants of Kyrgyzstan was published for the first time in Helsinki (Lazkov & Sultanova 2011). Currently we work on updating this checklist and developing it into a database. Besides, the inventory of rare and endemic plants of Kyrgyzstan is in progress in connection with the planned Red Data Book of Endemic Plants of Central Asia.

The Soviet military & forestry car GAZ-66 provides fabulous facilities for field work in the mountains. From left to right: Alex Sennikov, Georg Lazkov, Nurgul Karabaeva. Photo: S.Izaev

Published outputs:

  1. Sennikov, A.N. 2010: A revision of Cousinia sections Alpinae (syn. Carduncellus), Subappendiculatae and Tianschanicae (Asteraceae) in the Kirghizian Tian-Shan and the neighbouring territories. — Phytotaxa 5: 1–30.
  2. Sennikov, A.N. & Lazkov, G.A. 2010: Typification of Eremostachys labiosa (Phlomoides labiosa, Lamiaceae) and its synonyms. — Willdenowia 40(2): 221–226.
  3. Uotila, P. 2010: Aasian sydämessä: Retki Kirgisiaan kesällä 2009 [In the heart of Asia – an excursion to Kyrgyzstan in 2009. In Finnish, with English abstract]. — Norrlinia 20: 1–62.
  4. Sennikov, A.N. 2011: Cousinia hystricocephala (section Tianschanicae, Asteraceae), a new species from Central Asia. — Phytotaxa 25: 23–30.
  5. Lazkov, G.A., Sennikov, A.N., Tojibaev, K. & Sultanova, B. 2011: New and rare alien plants from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. — Novit. Syst. Pl. Vasc. 42: 226–231. (In Russian)
  6. Sennikov, A.N., Lazkov, G.A., Uotila, P. & Weber, H. 2011: Taxonomic corrections and new records in vascular plants of Kyrgyzstan. — Memoranda Soc. Fauna Fl. Fenn. 87: 41–64.
  7. Lazkov, G.A. & Sultanova, B.A. 2011: Checklist of vascular plants of Kyrgyzstan. — Norrlinia 24: 1–166. (In Russian)
  8. Sennikov, A.N. 2012: A bibliographic note on the first checklist of vascular plants of Zomin (also Zaamin, formerly Guralash) Nature Reserve, Uzbekistan. — Phytotaxa 71: 5–9.
  9. Sennikov, A.N. & Lazkov, G.A. 2012, continuously updated: Distribution records in vascular plants of Kyrgyzstan. — Mode of access:
  10. Sennikov, A.N. & Lazkov, G.A. 2013: Allium formosum Sennikov & Lazkov (Amaryllidaceae), a new species from Kyrgyzstan. — PhytoKeys 21: 29–36.
  11. Uotila, P. 2013: En botanisk forskningsresa till Kirgizistan.Nordenskiöld-samfundets tidskrift 70–71: 23–38.
  12. Sennikov, A.N. & Lazkov, G.A. 2013: Taxonomic corrections and new records in vascular plants of Kyrgyzstan, 2. — Memoranda Soc. Fauna Fl. Fenn. 89: 125–138.
  13. Lazkov, G.A. & Sennikov, A.N. 2014: New records in vascular plants alien to Kyrgyzstan. — Biodiversity Data Journal 2: e1018. doi: 10.3897/BDJ.2.e1018
  14. Lazkov, G.A., Sennikov, A.N., Koichubekova, G.A. & Naumenko, A.N. 2014: Taxonomic corrections and new records in vascular plants of Kyrgyzstan, 3. — Memoranda Soc. Fauna Fl. Fenn. 90: 91–110.
  15. Lazkov, G.A. & Sennikov, A.N. 2015: Taxonomic corrections and new records in vascular plants of Kyrgyzstan, 4. — Memoranda Soc. Fauna Fl. Fenn. 91: 67–83.
Person in charge of the page: 
Alex Sennikov