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Medicinal plant diversity in the southern and eastern Gobi Desert region, Mongolia

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Journal of Ecology and Environment201842:4

https://doi.org/10.1186/s41610-018-0064-5

  • Received: 24 November 2017
  • Accepted: 17 January 2018
  • Published:

Abstract

Background

The southern and eastern parts of the Gobi Desert area are a unique dry ecosystem with a diverse regional desert, semi-desert, and mountain dry steppe flora. This area habitat is located at the overlap of different floristic regions; on its northeast side, Central Asian desert flora is dominating, and on the eastern side, East Asian flora is observed. The comprehensive survey was carried out to find the floral diversity of the medicinal plants on the region.

Methods

All recorded species in this study were based on the collected voucher specimens between June and August in the year 2017.

Results

We recorded 23 families, 57 genera, and 78 species of vascular plants. The families Asteraceae (15 species), Fabaceae (10 species), and Amaranthaceae (10 species) were represented most in the study area, while Caragana (5 species), Salsola (4 species), and Arnebia (3 species) were the most common genera found.

Conclusion

Conservation status for remarkable species was also reviewed based on the literature. Around the study area, 24 species as “sub-endemic,” 10 species as “very rare,” 4 species as “rare,” 1 species as “alien,” 13 species as “relict,” 10 species as “Red Book,” 2 species as “endangered (EN),” 3 species as “vulnerable (VU),” 3 species as “near threatened (NT),” and 2 species as “least concern (LC)” plants are growing.

Keywords

  • Medicinal plant diversity
  • Conservation status
  • Southern and eastern Gobi Desert
  • Mongolia

Background

One of the most exotic and mysterious places in the world is the Gobi Desert (Fig. 1); it has always attracted adventurers and explorers. The Gobi is most notable in history as part of the great Mongol Empire, and as the location of several important cities along the Silk Road. Contrary to the popular belief, Gobi is not a desert in the usual sense; it is a sandy area completely devoid of vegetation. Mongols talk about many Gobis; in fact, they have 33 Gobis according to soil composition and color.
Fig. 1
Fig. 1

Map of the Gobi Desert

The Gobi is a large desert region in northern China and southern Mongolia. The desert basins of the Gobi are bounded by the Altai Mountains and the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia on the north, by the Tibetan Plateau to the southwest, and by the North China Plain to the southwest. The Gobi measures over 1600 km (1000 mi) from southwest to northeast and 800 km (500 mi) from north to south. The desert is widest in the west; it occupies an arc of land 1,295,000 km2 (500,000 sq mi) in area as of 2007; it is the fifth largest desert in the world and Asia’s largest. Much of the Gobi is not sandy but has exposed bare rock.

The Mongolian Gobi, a vast zone of desert and semi-desert, occupies almost 30% of the country’s territory. One of the harshest environments on earth, with extreme temperature and seasonal changes, Gobi is surprisingly full of wildlife such as gazelle, wild ass, wild camel, endangered Gobi bear, and special plants (largely endemic and sub-endemic species). The Gobi Desert is a vast, arid region in northern China and southern Mongolia. It is known for its dunes, mountains, and rare animals like snow leopards and Bactrian camels. In the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, the Khongoryn Els sand dunes are said to “sing” when the wind blows. The park also features the deep ice field of Yolyn Am canyon. Dinosaur fossils have been found at the red “Flaming Cliffs” of Bayanzag.

The southern and eastern Gobi Desert extends from the Inner Mongolian Plateau (China and Mongolia), situated at 1000 to 1500 m elevation, northward into Mongolia. It is a broad ecotone. Boundaries are determined to the east and north by the relatively moist grasslands of Mongolia and Manchuria and to the west and south by the extensive semi-deserts of the Alashan Plateau. This ecoregion includes the Yin Shan, a mountain range that rises to an elevation of 1500 to 2200 m and many low-lying areas with saltpans and small ponds. Although the region appears rather desolate, it provides a potential habitat for many wildlife species and a human population of semi-nomadic herders.

The climate here is continental. Summers are warm to hot, depending on elevation, and winters are intensely cold. Winter conditions are harsher here than the other parts of China at similar altitude and latitude because there are no mountains to shelter the region from cold northerly winds. The mean annual temperature varies from − 2 to − 6 °C, with January mean temperatures of − 20 to − 28 °C. Annual precipitation here is about 100 to 150 mm, although total precipitation varies considerably from 1 year to the next. Most of this precipitation falls during summer.

Vegetation tends to be homogenous across vast areas of the eastern Gobi Desert and distinct from the vegetation of grasslands to the east and deserts to the west. It consists of drought-adapted shrubs and thinly distributed low grasses. Dominant shrubs include two Caragana species (Caragana bungei and Caragana leucocephala). Other shrubs include gray sparrow’s saltwort (Salsola passerina), gray sagebrush (Artemisia xerophytica), Potaninia mongolica, and Nitraria sibirica. Low grasses include needle grass (Stipa gobica and Stipa glareosa) and bridlegrass (Cleistogenes soongorica).

Mongolia occupies an ecological transition zone in Central Asia where the Siberian Taiga forest, the Altai Mountains, Central Asian Gobi Desert, and the grasslands of the eastern Mongolian steppes meet.

Systematic exploratory studies including those on medicinal plant resources were undertaken from the 1940s when the Government of Mongolia invited Russian scientists including Drs. I. A. Tsatsenkin, A. A. Yunatov, and V. I. Grubov who focused on rare and useful plant species giving emphasis on plant species of medicinal value. A Joint Russian-Mongolian Complex Biological Expedition conducted since 1970 followed this.

Currently, it is estimated that about 3160 species (included 133 subspecies and 33 varieties), 684 genera, and 108 families of vascular plants exist in Mongolia (Urgamal et al. 2016). Of these, about 1100 species are medicinal plants, 150 species are rich sources of vitamins, 200 species contain essential oils, 250 species contain tanning matter, more than 200 species are plants that can be used for dyeing, 231 species are rich in flavonoid, 200 species are useful in many industries, more than 480 species are ornamental plants, 280 species contain alkaloids, 65 species contain coumarin, and 68 species are used to control sand movement (Ulziykhutag 1989). About 32% of the total vascular plants found in Mongolia are registered as medicinal plants, of which more than 200 plants species could be used for manufacturing modern western medicine. Although substantial work has been undertaken to identify and record the distributions of medicinal plants in Mongolia, studies in the Khuvsgul and Khangai mountains are incomplete.

The purpose of this study was to identify the medicinal plants in the southern and eastern Gobi Desert of Mongolia and record their distribution across the study area. The study also aimed to determine the species composition of vascular plants in the study area and compare their floral analysis, conservation status, ecological groups, the habitat type in which they were found, their distribution, and their usefulness based on traditional knowledge. The plant specimens were collected in joint surveys with our Mongolian partners in the southern and eastern Gobi Desert regions of Mongolia and taken to Korea for botanical investigations. Information on traditional knowledge was also collected in collaboration with our Mongolian partners.

Methods

We conducted our field surveys in the southern and eastern Gobi Desert areas of the Umnugobi, Dundgobi, and Dornogobi provinces of Mongolia, two different time points to cover the full vegetation period in the summer of 2017 (Fig. 2). Within the framework of a scientific partnership between the access to the Herbarium (UBA) of Institute of General and Experimental Biology of Mongolian Academy of Sciences (MAS) and National Institute of Biological Resources (NIBR) of Korea, our botanical field survey to the Gobi Desert region in Mongolia has been carried out. The field research route went through the provinces of southern and eastern Gobi with altogether eight sampling sites (Figs. 2, 3, 4 and Table 1) in the Gobi Altai, East Gobi, and Alashan Gobi, three phytogeographical regions of Mongolia, according to Grubov (1982).
Fig. 2
Fig. 2

Locations of our study route and site areas

Fig. 3
Fig. 3

Photos of our study sampling sites in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia. 1—Umnugobi, Tsogt-Ovoo sum, Onkhiin toirom; 2—Umnugobi, Dzunsaikhan mountain, Yoliin am; 3—Umnugobi, Bulgan sum, Bayanzag; 4—Umnugobi, Bulgan sum, Kholboogiin tal; 5—Dundgobi, Delgerkhangai sum, Delgerkhangai mountain; 6—Dornogobi, Khuvsgul sum, Khetiin tal; 7—Dornogobi, Khatanbulag sum, Ergen shand; 8—Dornogobi, Khatanbulag sum, Ergeliin Zoo

Fig. 4
Fig. 4

Photos of our field surveys to the Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Table 1

Characterization of study sites for the southern and eastern Gobi of Mongolia

Site no.

Date

Geographical name

Place name

Coordinates

Elevation (m.a.s.l.)

Natural zone

Region name

1

17 Jun

Umnugobi province, Tsogt-Ovoo sum

Onkhiin toirom

N 44.41771, E 105.34325

1240

Desert steppe

S. Gobi

2

19 Jun

Umnugobi province, Dalanzadgad sum

Dungenee am

N 43.48442, E 104.09080

2120

Mountian steppe

S. Gobi

3

21 Jun

Umnugobi province, Bulgan sum

Bayanzag

N 44.17788, E 103.62114

1080

Desert steppe

S. Gobi

4

21 Jun

Umnugobi province, Bulgan sum

Kholboogiin tal

N 44.37214, E 103.71547

1150

Desert steppe

S. Gobi

5

22 Jun

Dundgobi province, Delgerkhangai sum

Delgerkhangai mountain

N 45.20295, E 104.42863

1380

Mountian steppe

S. Gobi

6

21 Jul

Dornogobi province, Khuvsgul sum

Khetiin tal

N 43.50215, E 109.39863

810

Desert

E. Gobi

7

22 Jul

Dornogobi province, Khatanbulag sum

Ergen shand

N 43.19029, E 109.19863

860

Desert

E. Gobi

8

24 Jul

Dorongobi province, Khatanbulag sum

Ergeliin Zoo

N 43.20295, E 109.20863

1042

Desert

E. Gobi

To cover all of the different habitats at differing elevations, we sampled plots from the desert (810 m.a.s.l.), desert steppe (1080 m.a.s.l.) to mountain vegetation (until 2120 m.a.s.l.).

The geographic information system software ArcGis 10.2 was used to map and digitize the expedition route and collecting sites.

The nomenclature of the species followed the Conspectus of the Vascular Plants of Mongolia (Urgamal et al. 2014), which was based on the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system (APG IV 2016) of plant classification. Families and species were listed in accordance with APG (The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group IV system 2016; Urgamal 2016), and species within them alphabetically; information on the conservation status according to the Mongolian Law on Natural Plants (1995), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List was based on our results and representative references, Conspectus of Vascular Plants of Mongolia (Urgamal et al. 2014), Mongolian Red List and Conservation Action Plans of Plants (Nyambayar et al. 2011), Preliminary analysis of the vascular flora of Mongolia (Urgamal and Sanchir 2015), Additions to the vascular flora of Mongolia – III/Since theConspectus of the vascular plants of Mongolia 2014”/(Urgamal et al. 2016), and Atlas of the Endemic Vascular Plants of Mongolia (Urgamal and Oyuntsetseg 2017a, 2017b; Urgamal and Oyuntsetseg 2017a, 2017b).

All the collected herbarium materials were identified based on the Key to the Vascular Plants of Mongolia (Grubov 1982); Flora of Mongolia Volumes. 1, 10, 14a, 17 (Dariimaa et al. 2015; Urgamal 2009; Dariimaa 2014; Nyambayar 2009); Conspectus of Vascular Plants of Mongolia (Urgamal et al. 2014); Conspectus of Flora of Outer Mongolia (Gubanov 1996); A Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of Mongolia (Tungalag 2012); Tungalag (2016) as well as on electronic data of species distributional map and herbarium photos from Database of the Mongolian Flora (http://www.eic.mn/flora/). The identification of plant organs in МБС-2 binocular (× 8).

Data generated comprising of plant species’ botanical and local name, family, plant part used, mode of preparation and ethnomedicinal uses were formulated in a matrix (MS excel worksheet) and summarized as proposed by Ligaa et al. (2009) and Urgamal and Kwon (2015). The collections were processed into voucher specimens and deposited in the Herbarium (UBA) of Institute of General and Experimental Biology of Mongolian Academy of Sciences (MAS) and the National Institute Biological Resources (NIBR) of Korea, and an additional data were used in this study.

Results

As a result, we recorded 23 families, 57 genera, and 78 species of vascular plants in the southern and eastern Gobi Desert of Mongolia (Appendix). Most of the families in the study area, Asteraceae (15 species), Fabaceae (10 species), and Amaranthaceae (10 species), were represented most while Caragana (5 species), Salsola (4 species), and Arnebia (3 species) were common genera founded of the medicinal plants collected in our study (Figs. 5 and 6 and Table 2).
Fig. 5
Fig. 5

The number of species representing the most common families in the study site

Fig. 6
Fig. 6

The number of species representing the most common genera in the study site

Table 2

The collected largest genera and families of the medicinal plants in our study

Family

Species

Percent of total

Genus

Species

Percent of total

1. Asteraceae

15

19.23

1. Caragana

5

6.41

2. Fabaceae

10

12.82

2. Salsola

4

5.12

3. Amaranthaceae

10

12.82

3. Arnebia

3

3.84

4. Poaceae

6

7.69

4. Artemisia

2

2.56

5. Brassicaceae

5

6.41

5. Zygophyllum

2

2.56

Of the plant species that we collected, 30 species (38.46%) were found growing in the mountain, 34 species (43.58%) in the desert steppe, and 14 species (17.94%) in the desert (Fig. 7).
Fig. 7
Fig. 7

Types of habitats from where the medicinal plants were collected from in the study site

The medicinal plants found in the study sites in all parts of 4 species, in herbs of 39 species, in flowers of 5 species, in fruit and seeds of 7 species, and in the root of 9 species were used (Fig. 8).
Fig. 8
Fig. 8

The used parts of the collected medicinal plants that are known to have medicinal properties

Conservation status for remarkable species was also reviewed based on the literature. Within the investigated region, we recorded around the study area 24 species as “sub-endemic,” 10 species as “very rare,” 4 species as “rare,” 1 species as “alien,” 13 species as “relict,” 10 species as “Red Book,” 2 species as “endangered (EN),” 3 species as “vulnerable (VU),” 3 species as “near threatened (NT),” and 2 species as “least concern (LC)” plants are growing (Fig. 9 and Table 3).
Fig. 9
Fig. 9

The number of species representing the plant conservation status in the study site

Table 3

List of the conservation status of our collected plant species

Id

Species name

SE

RL

VR

R

AL

RB

Local red list

1

Allium altaicum Pall. 1773

1

 

1

1

  

VU

2

Allium polyrhizum Turcz. ex Regel 1875

1

      

3

Arnebia fimbriata Maxim. 1881

1

      

4

Arnebia guttata Bunge 1840

  

1

  

1

LC

5

Artemisia xerophytica Krasch. 1922

1

      

6

Asterothamnus alyssoides (Turcz.) Novopokr. 1950

1

      

7

Asterothamnus centraliasiaticus Novopokr. 1950

1

 

1

  

1

LC

8

Brachanthemum gobicum Krasch. 1933

1

 

1

  

1

NT

9

Calligonum gobicum (Bunge ex Meisn.) Losinsk. 1927

1

1

 

1

   

10

Calligonum mongolicum Turcz. 1832

 

1

     

11

Caragana brachypoda Pojark. 1950

1

 

1

  

1

VU

12

Caragana korshinskii Kom. 1908

1

      

13

Caragana stenophylla Pojark. 1945

1

      

14

Ephedra przewalskii Stapf 1889

 

1

     

15

Euphorbia mongolica (Prokh.) Prokh. 1949

1

      

16

Haplophyllum dauricum (L.) G. Don 1831

 

1

     

17

Hippolytia trifida (Turcz.) Poljak. 1957

1

      

18

Iris bungei Maxim. 1880

1

      

19

Juniperus sabina L. 1753

  

1

  

1

EN

20

Jurinea mongolica Maxim. 1874

1

 

1

  

1

VU

21

Melilotus officinalis (L.) Lam. 1778

    

1

  

22

Olgaea leucophylla (Turcz.) Iljin 1922

1

 

1

  

1

NT

23

Peganum nigellastrum Bunge 1835

1

1

     

24

Potaninia mongolica Maxim. 1881

1

1

1

  

1

NT

25

Reaumuria soongarica (Pall.) Maxim. 1889

 

1

     

26

Salsola passerina Bunge 1843

1

1

     

27

Scorzonera pseudodviaricata Lipsch 1933

1

      

28

Spongiocarpella grubovii (N. Ulzij.) Yakovlev 1987

1

1

1

  

1

EN

29

Stipa inebrians Hance 1876

   

1

   

30

Stipa tianschanica subsp. gobica (Roshev.) D.F. Cui 1996

1

      

31

Sympegma regelii Bunge 1879

 

1

     

32

Thermopsis mongolica Czefr. 1954

1

  

1

 

1

 

33

Thymus altaicus Klokov & Desjat.-Shost. 1936

1

      

34

Ulmus macrocarpa Hance 1868

 

1

     

35

Zygophyllum rosowii Bunge 1843

 

1

     

36

Zygophyllum xanthoxylon (Bunge) Maxim. 1889

 

1

     

The eight study sites were surveyed, and medicinal plants species were collected. Below, we list some important of these species:

Site 1. (Desert steppe in the southern Gobi)

The total collected species in this site is seven. The five sub-endemic plant species of Allium polyrhizum Turcz. ex Regel, Iris bungei Maxim., Peganum nigellastrum Bunge, Reaumuria soongarica (Pall.) Maxim., and Salsola passerina Bunge and one relict plant species of Peganum nigellastrum Bunge (Table 3) were found on this site.

Site 2. (Mountain steppe in the southern Gobi)

The total collected species in this site is 15. The three sub-endemic plant species of Allium altaicum Pall., Euphorbia mongolica (Prokh.) Prokh., Thymus altaicus Klokov & Desjat.-Shost., and one relict plant species of Juniperus sabina L. were found.

Site 3. (Desert steppe in the southern Gobi)

The total collected species in this site is five. The one sub-endemic plant species of Thermopsis mongolica Czefr. and two relict and rare plant species of Calligonum mongolicum Turcz. and Zygophyllum xanthoxylon (Bunge) Maxim. were found.

Site 4. (Desert steppe in the southern Gobi)

The total collected species in this site is ten. The three sub-endemic plant species of Arnebia fimbriata Maxim., Stipa tianschanica subsp. gobica (Roshev.) D.F. Cui, and Zygophyllum rosowii Bunge and one relict plant species of Arnebia guttata Bunge were found.

Site 5. (Mountain steppe in the southern Gobi)

The total collected species in this site is ten. One sub-endemic plant species of Caragana stenophylla Pojark. and one relict plant species of Ulmus macrocarpa Hance were found.

Site 6. (Desert in the eastern Gobi)

The total collected species in this site is 12. The six sub-endemic plant species of Artemisia xerophytica Krasch., Calligonum gobicum (Bunge ex Meisn.) Losinsk., Caragana korshinskii Kom., Jurinea mongolica Maxim., Olgaea leucophylla (Turcz.) Iljin, and Scorzonera pseudodviaricata Lipsch and one relict plant species of Haplophyllum dauricum (L.) G. Don were found.

Site 7. (Desert in the eastern Gobi)

The total collected species in this site is nine. The four sub-endemic plant species of Asterothamnus alyssoides (Turcz.) Novopokr., Asterothamnus centraliasiaticus Novopokr., Brachanthemum gobicum Krasch., Caragana brachypoda Pojark. and two relict and rare plant species of Stipa inebrians Hance and Sympegma regelii Bunge were found.

Site 8. (Desert in the eastern Gobi)

The total collected species in this site is five. The three sub-endemic plant species of Hippolytia trifida (Turcz.) Poljak., Potaninia mongolica Maxim., and Spongiocarpella grubovii (N. Ulzij.) Yakovlev and one relict and rare plant species of Ephedra przewalskii Stapf and Spongiocarpella grubovii (N. Ulzij.) Yakovlev were found.

Discussion

In this study, we reviewed the vascular plant diversity of the southern and eastern Gobi Desert in Mongolia. In the diverse habitats of this area, we recorded 78 species from 57 genera of 23 families, indicating that the flora of the surveyed region shows high diversity. In fact, we often found a number of species from a certain small area, which differed in habitat condition from its surroundings. In addition, widely varying ecological conditions found within the surveyed area along different altitudes (the desert, Gobi Steppe, foothills, and mountainside) were associated with different plant communities.

Records in Herbarium (UBA) and National Institute of Biological Resources (NIBR) documented all collected specimens together, sometimes with seeds and photographs. In order to list all vascular plant species accurately, we chose different collection periods (from June to August) according to plant phenology. The different phenological aspects of the plants helped for vital interpretation and determination of the species in a laboratory later (Forman and Bridson 1989). Most of the genera and some species identification have been done based on the identification keys during the field trip. Therefore, some of the early spring plants could only be recognized when flowering in late May or early June, whereas some late flowering plants were revealed in late August. Our field trip also allowed us to obtain a full herbarium collection with reproductive organs such as flowers and fruits for later precise identification.

Revealing the endemics, new distributional records, conservation status of species based on the compilation of literature materials, and our result strongly support the floristic importance of the region. From our collection, 36 species, which is about 40%, are under a certain threat level, which shows the relatively high specificity with regard to the surveyed area. In addition, during the fieldwork, we took some sub-endemic species and samples of specific genera, such as Allium, Arnebia, Asterothamnus, and Caragana.

Owing to our extensive sampling efforts in the southern and eastern Gobi area, the complete species list and our revision of rare, endangered, and vulnerable species as well as new species records give a good notion about the wealth of floral diversity and reasons for the conservation of the southern and eastern Gobi regions of Mongolia (Figs. 10, and 11).
Fig. 10
Fig. 10

The photos of the plant species in the southern Gobi regions of Mongolia. 1—Nitraria sibirica Pall.; 2—Allium altaicum Pall.; 3—Arnebia guttata Bunge; 4—Peganum nigellastrum Bunge; 5—Caragana leucophloea Pojark.; 6—Calligonum mongolicum Turcz.; 7—Reaumuria soongarica (Pall.) Maxim.; 8—Convolvulus gortschakovii Schrenk; 9—Clematis tangutica (Maxim.) Korsh.; 10—Zygophyllum xanthoxylon (Bunge) Maxim.; 11—Salsola arbuscula Pall.; 12—Ephedra przewalskii Stapf; 13—Zygophyllum rosowii Bunge; 14—Thermopsis mongolica Czefr.; 15—Salsola passerina Bunge

Fig. 11
Fig. 11

The photos of plant species in the eastern Gobi regions of Mongolia. 1—Anabasis brevifolia C.A. Mey.; 2—Arnebia decumbens (Vent.) Coss. & Krali; 3—Arnebia fimbriata Maxim.; 4—Krascheninnikovia ceratoides (L.) Gueldenst.; 5—Asterothamnus centraliasiaticus Novopokr.; 6—Brachanthemum gobicum Krasch.; 7—Caragana brachypoda Pojark.; 8—Caragana korshinskii Kom.; 9—Convolvulus tragacanthoides Turcz.; 10—Rheum nanum Siev. ex Pall.; 11—Hippolytia trifida (Turcz.) Poljak.; 12—Olgaea leucophylla (Turcz.) Iljin; 13—Sympegma regelii Bunge; 14—Spongiocarpella grubovii (N. Ulzij.) Yakovlev; 15—Salsola abrotanoides Bunge

Among these plants, the following medicinal species of liquorice were found to be in great demand and were in grave danger of being lost in the wild: Allium altaicum Pall., Allium polyrhizum Turcz. ex Regel, Anabasis brevifolia C.A. Mey., Arnebia guttata Bunge, Artemisia macrocephala Jacq. ex Besser, Artemisia xerophytica Krasch., Asterothamnus centraliasiaticus Novopokr., Caragana korshinskii Kom., Caragana stenophylla Pojark., Ephedra przewalskii Stapf, Euphorbia mongolica (Prokh.) Prokh., Haplophyllum dauricum (L.) G. Don, Iris bungei Maxim., Juniperus sabina L. Medicago sativa L., Melilotus officinalis (L.) Lam., Neopallasia pectinata (Pall.) Poljakov, Nitraria roborowskii Kom., Nitraria sibirica Pall., Olgaea leucophylla (Turcz.) Iljin, Peganum nigellastrum Bunge, Reaumuria soongarica (Pall.) Maxim., Rheum nanum Siev. ex Pall., Salsola abrotanoides Bunge, Salsola laricifolia Turcz. ex Litv., Salsola passerina Bunge, Scorzonera pseudodviaricata Lipsch, Sphaerophysa salsula (Pall.) DC., Spongiocarpella grubovii (N. Ulzij.) Yakovlev, Stipa inebrians Hance, Stipa tianschanica subsp. gobica (Roshev.) D.F. Cui, Sympegma regelii Bunge, Taraxacum sinicum Kitag., Thermopsis mongolica Czefr., Thymus altaicus Klokov & Desjat.-Shost., Zygophyllum rosowii Bunge, and Zygophyllum xanthoxylon (Bunge) Maxim.

These plants are very widely used by local people for food (Allium altaicum Pall., Allium polyrhizum Turcz. ex Regel, Nitraria roborowskii Kom., Nitraria sibirica Pall., etc.), traditional medicine (Arnebia guttata Bunge, Artemisia macrocephala Jacq. ex Besser, Artemisia xerophytica Krasch., Ephedra przewalskii Stapf, Euphorbia mongolica (Prokh.) Prokh., Haplophyllum dauricum (L.) G. Don, Iris bungei Maxim., Juniperus sabina L. Neopallasia pectinata (Pall.) Poljakov, Olgaea leucophylla (Turcz.) Iljin, Peganum nigellastrum Bunge, Salsola laricifolia Turcz. ex Litv., Scorzonera pseudodviaricata Lipsch, Taraxacum sinicum Kitag., Thermopsis mongolica Czefr., Thymus altaicus Klokov & Desjat.-Shost., Zygophyllum rosowii Bunge, Zygophyllum xanthoxylon (Bunge) Maxim.), and livestock fodder (Anabasis brevifolia C.A. Mey., Salsola passerina Bunge, Stipa inebrians Hance, Stipa tianschanica subsp. gobica (Roshev.) D.F. Cui, Medicago sativa L., Melilotus officinalis (L.) Lam., Reaumuria soongarica (Pall.) Maxim., Rheum nanum Siev. ex Pall., Salsola abrotanoides Bunge, Salsola passerina Bunge, etc.) and are usually harvested without any official permission and control.

Conclusions

Our study showed to identify and determine the species composition of vascular plants in the study area and compare their floral analysis, ecological groups, the habitat type in which they were found, their distribution, and their usefulness based on the traditional knowledge of the the medicinal plants that both in the southern and eastern Gobi Desert of Mongolia were combined and record their distribution across the study area. The investigated species composition of medicinal vascular plants in the southern and eastern Gobi Desert was classified and described to the flora of Mongolia.

This may contribute to this species predominance in various three (desert, desert steppe, and mountain ranges) ecosystems where medicinal vascular plants dominate Mongolia.

Abbreviations

APG: 

Angiosperm Phylogeny Group

NIBR: 

National Institute of Biological Resources

UBA: 

Ulaanbaatar Academy

Declarations

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful for the access to the collection at the Department of Botany, Institute of General and Experimental Biology of Mongolian Academy of Sciences. This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Biological Resources (NIBR), funded by the Ministry of Environment (MOE) of the Republic of Korea (NIBR No. 2017-04-203).

Funding

This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Biological Resources (NIBR), funded by the Ministry of Environment (MOE) of the Republic of Korea (NIBR No. 2017-0227214-00).

Availability of data and materials

Please contact the author for data requests. The data are not publicly available due to sensitive information regarding surface information of the study area.

Authors’ contributions

UM carried out the survey in Mongolia. KN, SK, MT, EB, and TI participated and worked together to collect the specimen in the field. KH helped to organize the manuscript. OK conceived of the study and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Laboratory of Flora and Plant Systematic, Institute of General and Experimental Biology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
(2)
Department of Biology, School of Natural Sciences, National University of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
(3)
School of Applied Biosciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, 41566, Republic of Korea

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