Central Asian shrubs & small trees

Submitted by Nick C. on Mon, 11/20/2017 - 15:42

I am curious if anyone has some good advice on shrubs or small trees native to Central Asia and some good nurseries that grow or specialize these species. Any good books on woodies from this region too? thanks


Submitted by CScott on Mon, 12/18/2017 - 08:42

No one is replying, so I will give you my two cents.

A few years back there were plant finding expeditions into the Himalayas.

One included the Plant World Seeds  people so they might have what you are looking for ?

 "The Himalayan Garden.   Growing Plants from the top of the world.  by Jim Jermyn  Timber Press

That book is more herbaceous perennials for the region.


Submitted by Lori S. on Mon, 12/18/2017 - 10:42

Likewise, I can't recommend any books that specifically cover woody species from this general area, nor any nurseries that specialize in same... which is not to say that some of the few remaining alpines nurseries may not have a few species that would fit the bill.

Your best bet, as it so often is in growing alpines, may be to peruse the seed lists from some of the (mainly) Czech seed collectors for species of interest and order seeds.  

Here are some of the well-known collectors.  You may be interested in the photos they post to their sites, as well, for some ideas as well as for general interest: 

Mojmír Pavelka:       http://www.pavelkaalpines.cz

Vojtěch Holubec:     http://holubec.wbs.cz

Vladislav Piatek:      http://www.alpine-seeds.com/seeds.html

Josef Jurášek:        http://zahradnictvi-svjan.cz/prodej_semen.html

Vladmir Stanek:     http://skalnicky-rostliny.blog.cz

Aleksandr Naumenko:     http://nova-zahrada.eu

I see on the Naumenko website that he is selling a field guide to plants of Kyrgyzstan, co-authored by him.  Hmmm, looks like it would be interesting to have, although, aside from latin names, the text is in Russian (which, unfortunately, I can't read!  frown)

It is also possible to pre-order the Holubec book, "The Tian Shan and its Flowers".   

"Flora of the Silk Road" by Christopher and Basak Gardner is also available (an absolutely incredible photo essay).

All would likely be fascinating, though not specifically focused on woody species.


Submitted by NC Wolverine on Sat, 12/23/2017 - 08:13

I had a small (3 foot [1meter]) Rhamnella franguloides growing in a very large pot in my backyard.  This past summer was my first year with this tree, and I learned that it does not like to dry out.  It does not need to be super moist, but it will let you know if it is becoming dry.  I caught mine at the first hint of it drying and took extra care after that.  Did wonderful throughout the late summer and fall.  This fall/winter, it found a permanent home 'in the dirt', so I have high expectations for it for many years to come.

I collected seeds from it and am seeing how well they germinate in the spring before submitting them into the SEEDEX next year (hopefully).

The small berries (about 4mm x 8mm) start out a pale green maturing through yellow, orange, and red, finally darkening until they are almost black when ripe.  They actually taste pretty good, having a bit of a nutty flavor to them.  I have read that jam can be made from them, but I did not have nearly enough berries on my sapling last year to attempt that.

The leaves turn a wonderful golden yellow in the fall.


I imagine that keeping it in a pot would restrict its growth.  Was it a particular small cultivar or spp.?  If not, it may get pretty big?  The species is said to get to 20-25 feet at this site:    https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all/rhamnella-franguloides/

The description from eFlora of China says 2m-9m, so there may well be some smaller varieties?http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200013357

My tree is a very young cutting, so the pot was not restricting its growth at all yet.  That was one of the reasons I wanted to get it planted this fall; so it would not get restricted on me.  I am expecting it to get about 20 feet tall or so eventually.

Most sites have its hardy to zone 7, sometimes 6.  I gave some seeds to a friend of mine in Michigan (zone 5) to see what he can do with it.  He seems to be able to stretch the hardiness of plants a bit.

Well, I have finally delved into "Flora of the Silk Road" (Christopher and Basak Gardner).  There is actually very little coverage of woody species (lest you be misled), though it is otherwise quite fascinating.  

Some genera, off the top of my head, that may be of interest - Daphne, some of the smaller Caragana, Cotoneaster, Sorbus, Rosa spp.... (a very incomplete list!)