The Republic of Georgia has one of the highest concentrations of plant species known from any temperate part of the world. Bordered to the north by Russia, to the east by Azerbaijan, to the south by Armenia and Turkey, and to the west by the Black Sea, Georgia's 69,700 sq. km are home to an exceptional plant diversity in an area where the European and Asian floras intersect. The Greater Caucasus Mountains traverse northern Georgia, the Lesser Caucasus Mountains cross the southern edge and a rich central valley is bounded by the dry Iori Plateau and Alazani Valley to the ast and the humid lowlands of Kolkheti Plain to the west. This topographic diversity, including mountain peaks that exceed 5000 meters (Shkara), coupled with a diverse array of climatic influences, gives rise to a complex mosaic of vegetation zones that support a high diversity of plants.
Georgia's flora is estimated at 4100 vascular species, one-fifth of which are endemics. The county holds a great number of species of medicinal value, with over 700 species utilized in Georgian traditional medicine and 200 taxa registered in the official pharmacopoeia. The Caucasus, and in particular Georgia, has been identified as a biodiversity "hot spot"; areas which cover only 1.4% of the earth's land area but are home to 44% of known plant species.
Hundreds of Georgian plant species are threatended withe extinction or serious genetic erosion. The vast majority of the medicinal plants of Georgia are gathered from the wild, and in some cases are heavily exploited, potentially threatening the long-term survival of these plant species and the medicinal resources they represent.
For each plant profile provided in this book, there is a GIS-generated distribution map, color photograph, vernacular and scientific name, notes on traditional and modern medicinal use, taxonomy, phenology, distribution, ecology, and chemisty. Risk of extinction and conservation status were assessed according to the 2003 "Red List" classification system developed by the international Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).