Astragalus cephalotes Banks & Sol. – a new species for the Republic of Azerbaijan
DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.11216116

Astragalus cephalotes Banks & Sol. – a new species for the Republic of Azerbaijan

Nakhchivan State University, University campus, AZ7012, Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan
Ganja State University, Heydar Aliyev Avenue 429, Ganja, Azerbaijan
Altai State University, Lenin St. 61, Barnaul, 656049, Russian Federation; Western Caspian University, Istiglaliyyat St. 31, AZ1001, Baku, Azerbaijan
Astragalus cephalotes Azerbaijan Nakhchivan new species


New species Astragalus cephalotes Banks & Sol. is reported to the flora of the Republic of Azerbaijan. We sampled it in Safdara, Kechili village (Shahbuz district, Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic) in mountain xerophytic community in 2016. Considering species current status and distribution we suggested include it in the future edition of the Red Data Book of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan with status VU, A2c+3c and with IUCN status 2016-LC.

doi: 10.5281/zenodo.11216116

Corresponding author: Dashgin Sh. Ganbarov (

Academic editor: R. Yakovlev | Received 27 March 2024 | Accepted 18 April 2024 | Published 21 May 2024

Citation: Ganbarov DSh, Aslanova YeA, Matsyura AV (2024) Astragalus cephalotes Banks & Sol. – a new species for the Republic of Azerbaijan. Acta Biologica Sibirica 10: 465–470.


Astragalus cephalotes, Azerbaijan, Nakhchivan, new species


The plant genus Astragalus L. (Fabaceae) comprises approximately 3000 species worldwide. This genus thrives in cold, semiarid, and arid regions across the globe, with around 2400 species in the Old World, about 450 species in western North America, and roughly 100 species along the Andean Mountains in South America (Maassoumi 1998; Zarre, Podlech 2013). Astragalus section Hymenostegis was initially identified by Bunge (1868–1869) in his work "Generis Astragali species Gerontogeae" within the subgenus Calyphysa. This section underwent further revisions by Rechinger et al. (1958) and was subsequently documented in the Flora of Turkey (Chamberlain and Matthews 1970), Flora of USSR (Gontscharov, 1946), and Flora of Iraq (Townsend 1974). Zarre and Podlech (1996) conducted the most recent revision of this section. Astragalus section Macrophyllium Boiss. was first described by Boissier in 1872.

The flora of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (AR) includes 2 subgenera and 33 sections of 84 species belonging to the genus Astragalus. Of these species, 54 belong to Astragalus, and 30 belong to the subgenus Cercidothrix (Ganbarov 2021).

Materials and methods

Starting in 2016, a comprehensive revision of the Astragalus genus involved extensive field surveys in Nakhcivan AR, resulting in the collection of a significant number of specimens. These specimens underwent thorough verification against the Astragalus descriptions provided in key literature sources, including Flora Uzbekistana (Borissova, 1955), Flora Tadzikistana (Borissova, 1937), Flora USSR (Borissova, 1946), and Flora Kavkaza (Grossheim, 1950). Herbarium material has been compared to plants kept in the Herbarium of the Iran (A. cephalotes Banks & Sol. (appressed hairy) East Azerbaijan: Oshnavieh to Orumieh, after Movana, 1669 m, 26.6.2009, Ranjbar & Assadi, BASU 17677, MAC77; A. cephalotes Banks & Sol. (spreading hairy) East Azerbaijan: Oshnavieh to Orumieh, after Movana, 1669 m, 26.6.2009, Ranjbar and Assadi; BASU 17678, MAC78).

As far as possible, descriptions of the species are based on herbarium specimens collected in the territory of Kechili Village (Shahbuz Region) and on personal data. Living plants and/or herbarium specimens were photographed. Newly gathered plant specimens were utilized to produce Herbarium sheets following the protocols outlined by Bridson and Forman (2010). Following the guidelines set by the IUCN criteria (IUCN 2017), we provide an evaluation and justification for the species conservation status. For the nomenclature of a recently discovered species, we have adhered to the regulations of the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Turland et al. 2018).

Floristic and geobotaical studies were conducted in Kechili village of Shahbuz district of Nakhchivan AR (39°21'58"N, 45°42'47"E, 1742 m above sea level) in 2016-2023 resulting in new species discovering. This species is Astragalus cephalotes Banks & Sol. that was found in the Safdara area of Kechili village, Shahbuz district of Nakhchivan AR, in the middle mountain belt, on dry grassy slopes (Fig. 1).

Figure 1.Astragalus cephalotes Banks & Sol., a herbarium specimen.


Species was first published in A.Russell, Nat. Hist. Aleppo, ed. 2, 2: 260 (1794). The native range of this species is E & SE Türkiye to Lebanon and NW Iran. It is a subshrub and grows primarily in the temperate biome. Initially categorized in section Pterophorus by Boissier (1872) due to the presence of bracteoles, A. cephalotes was later reclassified by Zarre (2000) into section Macrophyllium based on its large and glabrous leaves. However, the Flora of Turkey assigns A. cephalotes to section Rhacophorus (Chamberlain, Matthews 1970).

Taxonomic Treatment

Superdivision: Spermatophyta

Division: Angiospermae

Class: Dicotyledoneae

Family: Fabaceae

Genus: Astragalus

Astragalus cephalotes Banks & Sol., Russell, Nat. Hist. Aleppo, ed. 2: 260. 1794. Distribution: Turkey, Georgia, Syria, Lebanon, Iran. Irano-Turanian element.

Description: Astragalus cephalotes is a thorny, cushion-forming perennial plant with stems that become more or less woody; it forms a loose mat of growth 20– 50cm tall. In optimal growing conditions (high humidity) the plant develops larger leaves. The flowers are sessile with 2–5 pieces inside each leaf.

Phenology: Flowering and seeding occur in May–July, and sometimes seed ripening occurs in the first ten days of August. Life form (Raunkiaer): chamaephyte, Spinescence: leaves, It is non-succulent, perennating, chamaephyte. flowers hermaphrodite only, homogeneous seeds-fruits, Leaf arrangement: alternate (one leaf per node), Leaf Type: pinnate, stipule: present. Habitat: Tragacanth shrub vegetation (Oro-Mediterranean), glycophyte, Synanthrop: obligate natural. Chorotype: Med-Irano-Turanian.

Habitat and Associated Species: This species is found in the middle mountain belt, on dry grassy slopes at elevation ranging from 1600 to 1750 m. It grows alongside associated species such as Astragalus karjaginii Boriss., A. microcephalus Willd. (A. pycnophyllus Stev.; A. andreji Rzazade; A. gurdathii Al. Theod., Rzazade), A. lagopoides Lam (A. lagurus Willd.), A. cancellatus Bunge, A. conspicuus Boriss., A. mesites Boiss., Stachys inflata Benth., Phlomoides tuberosa (L.) Moench, Phlomis orientalis Mill., Rumex acetosa L., Cotoneaster integerrimus Medik., Helichrysum arenarium (L.) Moench.

Distribution: East Mediterranean and west Irano-Turanian distribution.

Conservation Status: Based on the available information, this plant has been tentatively classified as Least Concern in accordance with the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (IUCN, 2017). The existing data for Azerbaijan, and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is insufficient to evaluate the risk factor associated with this species. Here, the plant is known solely from its type locality. To comprehensively assess its distribution, population numbers, subpopulation numbers, further investigations are required in similar habitats adjacent to the known areas. We recommend to include this species in the new edition of the "Red Data Book" of Azerbaijan, and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic as a vulnerable species that is spreading in a limited range or area and is subject to negative effects –IUCN 2016-LC.

A copy of that species is kept in the herbarium fund of Nakhchivan State University. Materials of herbarium are given below:

1. Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, Kechili Village of Shahbuz District, Safdara. Coordinates: 39°21'58"N, 45°42'47"E, 1742 m asl, middle mountain belt, dry grassy slopes, mountain-xerophytic community; D. Ganbarov, 23.07.2016.


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