Forest vegetation

Forests that are located on the banks of the rivers are composed of alder-trees (Alnus barbata, A. incana) and fused with willow trees (Salix exelsa, S.alba). In some places Black Poplar (Populus nigra) and White Poplar (Populus canescens) can be encountered. In the southern slopes oak forests are to be found dominated by the Georgian Oak (Quercus petraea subsp. iberica). Its optimal altitude is 1000 meters above sea level. In the Oak forest one can encounter Hornbeams, Azalea, Nut-groves, Cornels, Poa and Festuca drymeia At higher altitudes, 1500-1800 meters above sea level it is replaced by the Caucasian Oak (Quercus macranthera). This type of forest is quite ubiquitous in Pshav-Khevsureti, its remains are covered by Yellow Azalea (Rhododendron luteum) and wild berries such as: wild crab apples, hawthorns and medlar. On the Northern slopes the dominant species are: beech (Fagus orientalis) fused with hornbeam (Carpinus betulus=C. caucasicus), field maple (Acer campestre, A. laetum), ash-trees (Fraxinus exelsior), elm (Ulmus scabra) and aspen (Populus tremula). At higher altitude the following trees exist: silver birch (Betula pendula) and Caucasian Oak (Quercus macranthera). Varieties of shrubs can also be found: Common Hazel (Corylus avellana), Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana) , Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus), (Rosa canina) and spindle tree (Euonimus latifolia). The temperate zones of mountain forests are characterized by diverse flora. Especially rich are the so called “windows”, which appear as a result of deforestation. On the territory of Pshav-Khevsureti different types of understory of beech forest can be found: hornbeam, Common Hazel, fern, tall-grass, blackberry, poa, Festuca drymeia, etc. Temperate zones of mountains (1500-1700 m.), which are dominated by beech and oak forests, transform into sub-alpine forest zone. The endemic tree of Northern Khevsureti is the Black Birch (Betula raddeana). Birch trees are mixed here with Rowan/mountain-ashes (Sorbus aucuparia=S. caucasigena), Goat Willow (Salix caprea), Common Aspen (Populus tremula) and Maple (Acer trautvetteri). In North Khevsureti an important role in forest composition is held by the Caucasian Pine (Pinus sosnowskyi). In the Subalpine zone (1800-2000 m.) there is a mix of pine and pine-birchaspen forest (Pinus sosnowskyi Betula litwinowii, B. Pendula, B. Raddeana, Populus tremula). In the Arghuni ravine, between Shatili and Mutso, a mix of pine and oak trees (Pinus sosnowskyi, Quercus macranthera) grow on southern-eastern open, rocky slopes. The birch forest in some places reaches an altitude of upto 2500 m above sea level. In birch forest the following understory plant species can be found: Snow Rose, Azalea, tall-grass, Festuca varia , rough small-reed (Calamagrostis arundinacea), etc. In the region of Pshav-Khevsureti Aspen forests are mixed with: hazel undergrowth (opulus tremula, Corylus avellana), Yellow Azalea (Populus tremula, Rhododendron luteum) and different types of grass. The sub-alpine zone has been used extensively by the local population for agricultural and pasture purposes, which caused deforestation in those areas. Presently, instead of trees, lot of rare herbs grow on the Eastern and South-Eastern slopes of the Northern Khevsureti mountains. Flora is especially rich there and includes more than 200 species. Such diversity is beyond comparison in Georgia. A similar type of plant variety and their composition is widespread in Dagestan and Chechnya-Ingushetia. The altitude of its vegetation territory reaches between 1000 and2000 meters. In the sub-alpine zone, on north-western slopes, one can encounter the Caucasian rhododendron (Rhododendron caucasicum) and types of berries, like: bilberry, lingonberry (Vaccinium myrtilus, V. vitis idaea). Caucasian Rhododenron always grows on the northern slopes and never on southern ones. From shrubs growing in the subalpine zone the most noticeable are: Common Hazel, Currant and Alpine Currant (Ribes biebersteinii, R. alpinum), Wayfaring Tree (Viburnum lantana), Caucasian honeysuckle (Lonicera caucasica) and Common Gooseberry (Grossularia reclinata). The Caucasian Rhododendron is especially widespread in Arghuni’s (Datvisjvari, Guro-Giorgitsminda, Shatili’s, Mutso’s, Khoni’s, Huro’s, Kharohki’s, Ardot-archilo-andaqi’s watersources) and Asa’s (Tsirtslovani, Kalotana, Tanie) sub-alpine and alpine zones.