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Conservation and the Development of Plant Resources at the Botanic Garden of Mongolia

Volume 3 Number 2 - July 2006

Gunjilmaa Byambaa

The Botanic Garden of Mongolia was established in eastern Ulaanbaatar in the 1970's in order to conserve the native and rare flora of Mongolia and provide economically useful plant species for agriculture, forestry and horticulture.  It is part of the Institute of Botany of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.  Currently it occupies 32 ha with ornamental trees, shrubs, herbs and bulbs (Paeonia and Iris) and greenhouses.  An arboretum was established in the north-east of Ulaanbaatar in the 1980's and has since cultivated about 800 species of native trees and about 50,000 other plants.

The garden has 19 staff which consists of 13 scientists (including1 D.Sc. and 4 Ph.D.) and 6 technical specialists and works closely with the National University of Mongolia.  There are 56 native taxa in cultivation (see Figure 1).  Since its foundation, the garden has undertaken research on the breeding of ornamental trees and shrubs, landscape design and construction and supplied plants for greening the city and published 10 books 53 manuals, 87 standards and manuals.

Wild collection of 133 species of plants is legally prohibited and 128 higher and lower species are registered in the Red Book of Mongolia (Shiirevdamba, 1997), which supports their conservation. Over 20 endangered plants are now in cultivation.

Present work focuses on:

  • Research into the ecology and infraspecific variation, cultivation, threats, conservation and breeding of native ornamental and useful shrubs for greenhouse and outside cultivation.
  • Maintaining living collections, ex situ and in situ conservation, propagation of rare and endangered native taxa to provide a living plant and in vitro gene bank
  • Detailed research into the biological activity of the forms selected for cultivation (e.g. Mongolian medicinal plants) in relation to the environment and historical use for economic use.
  • Cultivation and selection of exotic plants
  • Develop protocols for the cultivation of plants for each genus
Wild collection of 133 species of plants is prohibited by law and 128 higher and lower species are registered in the Red Book of Mongolia (Shiirevdamba, 1997), which supports their conservation. Over 20 endangered plants are now in cultivation.

Study of Economic Plants

The aim of this work is to study: the distribution of rare, endangered and economic plants, the economic evaluation of plants (such as medicine, painting materials and fruits) and protocols for their use.

For example, the department has worked on the development of rare and native economic plants such as Thermopsis, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, Adonis mongolica and Cistanche deserticola and Hippophae rhamnoides (Ochirbat, 2005).  The research includes the distribution, biological and industrial use, restoration, ecological and economic aspects, assessment scheme and production of an information file on its cultivation.  The department has produced dissertations (10), internal reports and bulletins, books and news items for the public, monographs (320), standard and technical manuals, proposals, strategies and illustrations. 

Detailed morphological and chemical research has been undertaken on over 100 Mongolian species for vegetable dyes (60 genera of 40 families) such as Rheum (10 sp.), Galium and Urtica.  Technological protocols have been defined to make colours such as yellow, green, brown, and pink, black and blue for wool and cashmere under varying conditions.  The department has also undertaken a project on bee breeding which has led to an increase in income for the production of honey and related. 

Institute of Botany

The Institute of Botany employs 54 scientists (most with higher degrees including 9 D.Sc., 19 Ph.D, 21 M.Sc.).
Current research topics are:
  • Plant systematic and taxonomy
  • The bio-resource, bio-ecological, cytological and physiological researches of useful, rare and endangered plants
  • The long-term monitoring research of growth, development and dynamics of forest
  • Vegetation dynamics in different zones
  • The biology of introducing plants into cultivation in the botanical garden
  • The technology of increasing fertility, regeneration and cultivation of stored germplasm
  • Climax vegetation, succession and changes of Orkhon-Selenge valley meadow and steppe ecosystem

The Institute collaborates with research institutes and universities in over 15 countries such as Russia, USA, Japan, Germany, China and Israel.  These include: the A.N.Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS); the Komarov Botanical Institute RAS; the Baikal Institute for Natural Resources, RAS; the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS); the Institute of Ecology and Geography CAS; Department of Botany, University Museum, University of Tokyo, Japan; Okayama University of Science, Japan; Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, Kanazawa University, Japan; Institute of Geobotany and Botanical Garden, Martin Luther University, Halle, Germany; Institute for Desert Research, Israel; Krasnoyarsk Forest Institute, Russia.

Since 1970, the Joint Russian-Mongolian Complex Biological Expedition (JRMBE) has undertaken large-scale integrated research in Mongolia.  The main aim of this expedition research work is bio-resource studies, eco-biological assessment and developing procedures for its proper use, restoration and conservation.  The work plan of this cooperation covers a wide range of topics: vegetation and flora, plant cover, botanical and geographical studies, agricultural and pastureland, forest and animals.


Ochirbat G., 2000. Wild Seabuckthorn [Hippophae rhamnoides L.] areas, its forms and outlook for use in Mongolia. The 2nd International Seabuckthorn Association Conference, Beijing, China. accessed 30 May 2006

Shiirevdamba T., Shardarsuren O., Erdenejav G., Amagalan, Ts. and Tsetsegmaa,Ts. (eds)., 1997. Mongolian Red Data Book. Ministry for Nature and Enveronment of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. 

About the Author 

Gunjilmaa Byambaa is with the Institute of Botany, Mongolian Academy of Sciences

Figure 1 - Native taxa in cultivation at the Botanic Garden of Mongolia


Allium altaicum
A. condensatum
A. macrostemon
A. obliquum


Aster altaicus
A. alpinus
A. mongolicus
A. sp
Echinops latifolius
Brachanthemum mongolicum
Chrysanthemum zawadskii
Olgaea leucophylla
O. lomonossowii


Dianthus versicolor
D. sp


Lilium pumilum
L. martagon
L. dahuricum
L. buschianum
Hemerocallis lilio-asphodelus
H. minor
Tulipa uniflora
Polygonatum odoratum
Asparagus sp


Paeonia anomala
P. lactiflora


Rheum undulatum


Campanula glomerata


Rhodiola rosea
Sedum aizoon
S. purpureum


Sophora flavescens


Geranium pratense


Goniolimon speciosum


Lamium album
Phlomis tuberosa


Hypericum ascyron


Anemone crinita
Trollius asiaticus
T. hybridus
Adonis mongolica
Clematis tangutica
Delphinium elatum
Ranunculus japonicus


Lancea tibetica


Iris bungei
I. dichotoma    
I. flavissima
I. halophila
I. lactea
I. potaninii
I. sibirica
I. tenuifolia
I. tigridia
I. ventricosa
I. sanguinea