Sideritis scardica Griseb.

2644 (2). S. scardica Griseb., Spicil. Fl. Rumel., 11(1844) 144; Hayek, Prodr. Fl. Penins. Bale., II (1929) 257; Heywood, Fl. Eur., Ill (1972) — Пирински миризлив бурен

Fam:   Labiatae Juss. (Lamiaceae)
Genus:   Sideritis L.
Species: Sideritis scardica Griseb.
English Name: Mountain Tea, Ironwort, Shepherd's Tea


Perennials. Creeping rhizome. White fiber plant. Stems 15 - 40 cm tall, erect or ascending, usually unbranched, basically woodened. Leaves with short stems or sessile, entire or slightly serrated, gray fiber; lower 40 - 80 mm in length and 5 - 20 mm wide, back lancet, oblong to oblong lanceolate; middle and upper 30 - 70 mm in length and 6 - 12 mm wide, elongated elliptical to linear. Blossom vertebrae with many flowers, collected at 50 - 80 mm long, thick wheatear like  inflorescence. Blossom leaflets differing from the leaves, almost leathery texture, when ripe lemon yellow; lower elliptical to 40 mm long and 15 - 20 mm wide; middle heart-rounded suddenly pointed, 12 - 20 mm long, longer than flowers. Calyx bell-shaped pipe-like, 9 - 12 (-13) mm long by 10 veins; triangular teeth lanceolate, tapered 3 - 5 (-6) mm long, usually two times shorter than the tube. Corolla 10 - 15 mm long, lemon yellow, covered with glands; upper lip erect, almost flat, a whole; lower lip trilobite,with wider and incised middle share. Wren ovoid atop rounded, smooth.

Economic importance. Medicinal herb. Used flowering upper parts of the stems (Herba Sideritis scardicae) as an expectorant and mitigating tool for cough and bronchitis. Have established essential oil, bitter substances, flavonoids and tannins.

„Флора на НР България, том IX, БАН, София, (1989)”

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Navicularia scardica (Griseb.) Soják
Sideritis raeseri Boiss. & Heldr. subspecies florida (Boiss. & Heldr.) Papan. & Kokkini
Sideritis florida Boiss. & Heldr.
Sideritis scardica Griseb. subspecies longibracteata Papan. & Kokkini

Global and European regional assessment: Near Threatened (NT)
EU 27 regional assessment: Near Threatened (NT)

Sideritis scardica is endemic to the Balkan Peninsula, where it is found at high altitudes in rocky montane areas. It is under intense collection pressure from the wild, with increasing demand for its medicinal value. The mass collection of generative shoots during the flowering phase combined with low germination of seeds has resulted in a significant population declines, at least in parts of its range, as the plant has been exploited for its herbal properties. It is not known to be extensively cultivated and although it occurs in protected areas and is a protected species in some countries, the degree of enforcement is unknown and collection is ongoing. Anthropogenic activities such as land use changes, trampling, ploughing, creation of forest trails, and grazing by cattle are additional threats.

Populations have been declining for several decades, particularly in Bulgaria (where the most population information is available), though the decline has not been quantified. Although conservation measures have been put in place in the past ten years, whether these have been effective is unknown; they have not been so in the past. The species is threatened in half of its countries of occurrence and its population appears to be quite small (<2,500 mature individuals in Bulgaria and >250 in Serbia), though population data are absent from the centre of its range in Albania, Macedonia and Greece, where populations might be larger (but demand is expected to remain high). Given the species' threatened status across much of its range, and considering the uncertainty in the population sizes and degree of decline, it is listed as Near Threatened approaching criteria A2cde.

Within the EU 27, it is present only in Bulgaria and Greece and is threatened in both countries. The extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be 20,000-30,000 km². It is severely fragmented and suffering a continuing decline in both the quality of habitat and number of mature individuals. As the most intense collection pressure is in Bulgaria and Greece, and presuming population declines over the past 10-15 years have followed the same pattern as over the past few decades, it is suspected to have declined by at least 20% across its EU 27 range, and possibly 30% or more. It is therefore listed as Near Threatened approaching criteria A2cde and B1ab(iii,v).

Close monitoring and protection of the small remaining fragmented population is required to prevent local extinctions, particularly at the national levels where harvest and trade is carried out. Ex situ conservation in gene banks and increase in the area of cultivation to meet market demand should also be explored. It is strongly recommended to collect detailed population information and decline rates from each country and to re-assess the species when these data are available. It might then require a higher threat category.

Range Description:

Sideritis scardica is endemic to the central part of the Balkan Peninsula (RBG Kew 2012). Its distribution is not continuous, but rather fragmented between mountain ranges at high elevations. In Macedonia, it is widespread in the central and western mountains. In Albania, it is limited to the mountains in the southwest, where it is known from Steblevë Markgraf (Dibëra District) at 1500 m (Janeska et al. 2007, Petreska et al. 2010, L. Shuka pers. comm. 2013). In Bulgaria it is only known from nine localities in the Slavyanka Mountains, Pirin Mountains and Rhodopi Mountains at elevations between 1,000 to 2,200 metres (Petrova and Vladimirov 2009). It is distributed mainly in mountainous areas of eastern-central, north-central and north-eastern Greece, between 1,600 and 2,300 m asl (Strid and Tan 1991, National Technical University of Athens 2011). It has been recorded from European Turkey, at 800 m asl (Güner et al. 2000). The exact distribution in Serbia is unknown, but likely to be restricted to the mountains at high elevations.

The extent of occurrence (EOO) across Europe, as measured by the minimum convex hull, is estimated to be around 86,000 km²; the calculated area of suitable habitat within its European range is roughly estimated to be 9,600 km².

Within the EU 27, the EOO is estimated to be around 20,000-30,000 km², based on known locality data in Bulgaria and presence in Natura 2000 sites in Greece (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences & Ministry of Environment and Water 2011, National Technical University of Athens 2011), though this is an uncertain estimate. In Bulgaria, EOO is estimated to be around 1,200 km²; based on presence in nine 10x10 km grid cells, the maximum value for the area of occupancy (AOO) is 900 km². In Greece, the amount of suitable montane habitat is calculated to be up to 3,500 km².

Countries occurrence:

Albania; Bulgaria; Greece (Greece (mainland)); Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Serbia (Serbia); Turkey (Turkey-in-Europe)

From: The IUCN Red List of  Threatened Species

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Flowering Time: Blooms: VI - VIII.

References: „Флора на НР България, том IX, БАН, София, (1989)” The IUCN Red List of  Threatened Species

Distribution in Bulgaria: In dry rocky and grassy places of calcareous rock in the mountains Slavyanka (above. Paril and Goleshevo villages), Middle- (Trigrad) and Western- (Dospat) Rodopi mountains, South Pirin (Baba peak, Orlek peak, above Papazchair country-side) from 1000 to 2200 meters altitude. (Conspectus of the Bulgarian Vascular Flora) = conspectus&gs_l= Zlc.

Distribution: The central part of the Balkan Peninsula (Albania, Greece, Yugoslavia). Balkan endemic.

Conservation status and threats: not protected species in Bulgaria by the Biodiversity Law. Законодателство на Република България: Закон за биологичното разнообразие

Medical plant: yes, it is -

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Red Data Book of the Republic of Bulgaria
Digital edition

Sideritis scardica

Sideritis scardica Griseb.

Lamiaceae – Mint family

Conservation status. Endangered [EN B1ab(ii,iii,v)+2ab(ii,iii,iv); C2a(i)]. BDA. Balkan endemic.

Morphology and biology. Perennial, herbaceous tomentose plant. Stems 1540 cm high, branched or unbranched, woody at base. Leaves opposite, with gray hairs. Verticillasters many-flowered, clustered in a dense spike. Middle bracts 1220 mm long, longer than the flowers. Calyx tubular-campanulate. Corolla lemon yellow, glandular. Nutlets ovoid. Fl. VIVIII, fr. VIII−IX. Insect pollination. Reproduction by seeds.

Habitats and populations. Occurs in open, dry, stony places, on limestone, on shallow and eroded soil. Grows in the subalpine and alpine vegetation belts accompanied by high-mountain, mostly hasmophytic plants. Populations of the species are with low numbers (not exceeding 2000) of individuals.

Distribution in Bulgaria. Slavyanka Mt, Pirin Mts (southern), Rhodopi Mts; from 1000 up to 2200 m alt.

General distribution. Central part of the Balkan Peninsula (Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, R Macedonia).

Threats. Very restricted distribution, low number of individuals in the populations and intensive collection as medicinal plants for trade could cause complete extinction of the species.

Conservation measures taken. The species is in the list of medicinal plants under special regime for conservation and use. Parts of the populations are within Alibotush Strict Nature Reserve in Slavyanka Mt., Pirin National Park, Trigradsko Zdrelo Protected Site in Rhodopi Mts. The localities are within sites of the European Ecological Network Natura 2000 in Bulgaria. The growth biology of the species has been studied and the plant is being cultivated on ca. 0.5 ha in the country.

Conservation measures needed. Protection of the species by the national Biodiversity Act; increase of the cultivation area; deposition of seeds in a seed genebank.

References. Alikovski 1983; Assenov 1989; Evstatieva et al. 1990; Evstatieva & Koleva 2000; Todorova et al. 2000; Yordanova & Apostolova 2000; Koleva et al. 2002.

Author: Lyuba Evstatieva

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