Botanical illustration project: Armenian flora postcard series
Armenia is remarkable for its rich and diverse flora, which includes a big number of species of conservation importance. First of all, it is important to know plants for their effective conservation, but lack of interpretation material (especially illustrated) is an obstacle to it. It is obvious, that there is a big need in popularization of botany in the country and awareness raising activities in local communities, among conservationists and public in general. Botanical illustration as a tool has certain advantages comparing to photography, as more clear demonstration of taxonomic features of plants; it also helps to outline plants’ beauty and pecularities.
Black and white graphical illustrations are found in the ‘Flora of Armenia’ and they are available mainly to botanists, meanwhile colorful botanical illustration examples in Armenia were not known, except a few botanical stamps produced by the Post of Armenia.
The initial project on botanical postcards of Armenian flora was supported by the Eric Hosking Charitable Trust http://www.erichoskingtrust.com/ in 2014 and it let us to publish first five postcards. The project’s main goal was to promote conservation of the flora through publication and distribution of botanical postcards first of all among conservationists and in local communities, linked with habitats where the target species are found. Five species have been chosen: Nectaroscordum tripedale, Paeonia tenuifolia, Rhododendron caucasicum, Sorbus hajastana, Lilium armenum. The watercolor paintings were done by a professional artist and plant enthusiast Nadezhda Navasardyan in collaboration with me as a botanist. The project’s main activities included travel towards the populations of the selected species, preparation of watercolor illustrations, publication of the postcards with the painted plants on them and distribution of the postcards in the local communities, related protected areas staff, other conservationists, accompanied, where possible, by awareness raising activities.
Soon after the first set of five postcards was published, they aroused great interest and many positive responses and so, in 2016 seven more species of Armenian flora (Rhynchocorys orientalis. Diphelypaea tournefortii, Pyrus gergerana, Scabiosa caucasica, Tomanthea daralaghezi, Michauxia laevigata, Iris lineolata) appeared on postcards thanks to financial support from “Botanikreisen”, Switzerland (https://botanikreisen.ch) and four more (Sambucus tigranii, Campanula tridentata, Vavilovia formosa, Sedum pilosum) – due to sponsorship from Mr Richard I. Robinson and Mrs Vicky M. Robinson (UK), whom we met under the auspices of Mediterranean Plants and Gardens society (MPG).
Three more beautiful representatives of our flora - Papaver orientale, Gladiolus atroviolaceus and Salvia hydrangea have been painted by Nadezhda in 2017 and so we had them published thanks to support from Min Wood (UK).
The twentieth postcard is in progress and will be published within a few months due to financial support by Katharine Fedden from France. When choosing candidate species, we care not only for rare and threatened ones, but also for common species as all deserve to be known and protected. Also we try to cover different life forms and make our postcards bright and attractive. The activities have been implemented through “Nature Rights Protection” NGO – Planta Europa partner in Armenia. The project has proved its effectiveness and we plan to keep working on progress, so more and more new plants of Armenian flora could appear on postcards and be presented to public in the nearer future.