Evaluating the ornamental value of the Caucasian flora in Georgia.
The flora in the Caucasus Ecoregion is rich in economically important plants. While its value in terms of food crops and medicinal plants has recently been subject to scientific research, the ornamental value of many Caucasian plant species has not yet been fully recognized. In order to assess the ornamental value of the Caucasian flora, vegetation data from two mountainous study regions in Georgia (n=958 species, mostly grassland vegetation) was compared with the product range of ornamental plants in Germany using an online plant shopping guide. Characterization of the 150 plant species listed in both databases revealed that 121 species are present in central Europe and 117 species are natives or archaeophytes in Germany. Thus, only few species are Caucasian endemics. Furthermore, a list of 79 potential ornamentals endemic to the Caucasus was compiled from the literature. In order to place them in context of the horticultural market, the species characteristics were examined. Following this, a critical discussion of the potentials and risks arising from trade with ornamental plants was carried out with regard to nature conservation, biological invasion control, genetic resource maintenance and socioeconomic significance.