<em>Apocynum venetum</em> L. and <em>Apocynum pictum</em> Schrenk (Apocynaceae) as multi-functional and multi-service plant species in Central Asia: a review on biology, ecology, and utilization
During the second half of the 20th century cotton was strongly promoted along the rivers of Central Asia. The irrigation agriculture resulted in wide spread soil salinization and severe water shortages within the river systems. Most prominent example is the desiccation of the Aral Sea. The natural vegetation along the rivers of Central Asia is adapted to periods of water shortage, is very productive, and contains plant species with valuable utilization opportunities. We reviewed the literature about Apocynum venetumL. and A. pictum Schrenk, two plant species of those riparian ecosystems, which are used as fibre and medicinal plants. A. venetum and A. pictum yield fibres, which can be used as textiles, though the fibres best are blended with cotton and/or chemical fibres. Though, the fibre extraction process needs more research attention. Furthermore, the literature shows that Apocynum leafs are used to produce antihypertonic tea and medicine. Both species grow under the arid climate of Central Asia without irrigation, because they exploit groundwater. Furthermore, both species can withstand higher soil salinization levels than cotton. Both species can be used and provide an income to local people under conditions, which are unfavourable to grow crops under irrigation. Such conditions are unreliable water supply for irrigation systems and/or saline soils.
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