Aristida karelinii (Gintzburger et al., 2003)

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Agropyron desertorum
Gintzburger et al., Rangelands in Uzbekistan, 2003
Aristida karelinii (Gintzburger et al., 2003)
Aristida pennata
Aristida karelinii
Aristida karelinii
Aristida karelinii

Aristida karelinii (Trin. et Rupr.) Roshev.

Local name:

  • Russian: Триостница Карелина, эркек-селин - triostnica Karelina, èrkek-selin
  • Turkmen: Erkek-selin
  • Kazakh: Ak-seleu
  • Uzbek: Seling

Chromosome number: 2n = 22, 44 (Fedorov 1969).

Description and morphology: Perennial large, loose bunchgrass (height 80–150 cm, up to 100 cm diameter). Life span 10 years. Tough, filamentous, superficial root system, able to capture all surface moisture from sand dunes. Horizontal roots, with underground stems (suckers) extend 15 m from bunch. Specific ability to convert aboveground stems (1 and 2 year old) into suckers when covered by moving sand. Roots are protected by formation of sandy ‘chehol’ or sand-aggregated tube formed by secretion from hairs on roots. Stem: densely branched from bunch base, glabrous. Leaves: narrowly linear, wide at base, becoming rolled and spiky at tip; surface has dense spiny hairy layer. Inflorescence: open loose spike; base more or less covered by sheath of top leaf. Flowers: without perianth. Vegetative growth begins in April.

Reproduction: Sexual. Rarely vegetative with suckers. Entomophilous or anemophilous. Flowering: June. Fruit maturation: end June; July–August in northern area. Fruit: indehiscent, dry, hard kernel, pale yellow, with fruiting body closely attached to seed coat. Seed: large, well differentiated embryo, at the base of seed with abundant starchy endosperm. Dormancy A2–B1 type. Light-sensitive. Fresh collected seeds in summer or after winter have low rate of germination. Dry storage (30 °C) for 6 months stimulates germination. Scarification (removal of fruit wall) or chemical treatment greatly increases germination. Seed longevity 7–9 years.

Pastoral importance: Most important in sand dune formation; an early colonizer of plant associations and formations on shifting dunes. Considered a poor fodder plant. Hardly grazed, even when green, but used more in late autumn and winter. Well consumed by all livestock when collected as hay before flowering or after being softened by rain and snow late in autumn or beginning of winter. Average dry weight per bush is 1–2 kg DM up to 5 kg DM. Expected yield on good stand is about 0.7 t/ha DM. Sowing for range regeneration requires about 1–6 kg seeds/ha.

Fodder value: At flowering stage (% DM): cellulose 35–37; protein 7. Mostly used as roughage. Value of hay about 30 FU and 1.4 kg digestible protein/100 kg DM.

Habitat: Typical psammophyte. Thrives on mobile sand. Occupies the same ecological niche and role as Stipagrostis pungens on warm Saharan margins in North Africa.

Distribution: Endemic species of Central Asia. Uzbekistan (southern sandy dunes and desert of Kyzylkum and Karakum).