An Iranian Bird Guide and Bright Pink Native Plant - Observation of the Week, 1/19/21

Our Observation of the Week is this Bongardia chrysogonum (commonly known as سینه کبکی in Farsi) plant, seen in Iran by @shahrzadasa.

For nearly ten years now, Shahrzad Fattahi has worked as a bird guide, but she got her start in plants many years ago. “Iran is a country that is very rich in plant diversity,” she tells me, 

[and] at first I became interested in plants and I was able to take a short course to get acquainted with plants with taxonomy. Photography of nature was an integral part of my observations, so in the genre of wildlife photography and macrography, I expanded my activities and gradually became interested in birds and butterflies...I work and often travel alone to natural places and photograph the species observed, especially birds, butterflies and plants in different seasons.

It was on one of those trips, in 2016, where she took the photograph you see above.

During one of my trips to Mazandaran province, in a large plain called Lasem, which is full of flowers and butterflies in spring, I came across various plants, one of which was Bongardia chrysogonum

I remember a spring day with natural colorful flowers. A gentle breeze and a butterfly dance, along with the sound of a Common Rosefinch playing across the plains, thrilled me. After watching and photographing the species, I lay down on the grass for a short rest and watched the sky beyond the leaves, which attracted my attention more and I took two photos of it. I did not imagine that one day it could fit in a site like iNaturalist and be introduced to the public.

Shahrzad explains Bongardia chrysogonum grows in many of Iran’s natural areas, and its bright pink color attracts attention (the flowers are yellow when in bloom, however).  It’s commonly known as سینه کبکی, she tells me, which means “breast of the chukar” as it resembles that bird. The plant’s leaves, which are quite beautiful, as well as its tuber, are eaten and used medicinal purposes. A member of the barberry family (Berberidaceae), it ranges from Southeastern Europe into Kazakhstan, as well as North Africa.

After her friend @parham_beyhaghi suggested she share her finds on iNat, Shahrzad (above) signed up in 2017 and has posted over one thousand observations (and added 1,300+ IDs). She has been contacted by several students who are researching plants in the region, asking for information and photos, making her realize “how important this site is in introducing species and helping students and naturalists, and it can be a good communication bridge for exchanging useful information all over the world.

I am very happy to join this site so I can improve my knowledge and connect with other researchers and scientists of nature and use their information to learn. iNaturalist is a source of biodiversity learning in the world and it has made me much more interested than ever before.

Some quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and flow.

- Parham Beyhaghi was the subject of an early Observation of the Week, posted almost exactly four years ago!

- Bongardia chrysogonum has been traditionally used to treat urinary tract infections, and this study shows it may be effective in treating prostate issues in humans.

- It may also be an effective epilepsy medication, according to another study.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, January 19, 2021 22:45


cool! thanks for sharing your finds, @shahrzadasa :)

Posted by trh_blue 8 months ago (Flag)

Really interesting to "meet" biodiversity and naturalists from all over the world through these Observations of the Week. Very cool to see Iran and Shahrzad Fattahi featured!

Posted by muir 8 months ago (Flag)

What exceptional work you have accomplished all for the love of exploring the natural world!

Posted by ingrid_kaatz 8 months ago (Flag)

What a beautiful image, and a wonderful story to go with it!

Posted by lisa_bennett 8 months ago (Flag)

I love your description of what is right in front of us when we relax our focus--a universal way of learning and appreciating. Thanks for introducing me to this beautiful species with so many uses in your neighborhood.

Posted by green_rhythm 8 months ago (Flag)

Thank you Shahrzad for this beautiful photo and all your other observations and identifications!

Posted by susanhewitt 8 months ago (Flag)

Gorgeous plant!

Posted by cesarcastillo 8 months ago (Flag)

Really impressive plant and story.

Posted by carlavanw 8 months ago (Flag)


Posted by jmaughn 8 months ago (Flag)

¡A great vision through the lenses of an Irani naturlist´s woman! Thanks @shahrzadasa

Posted by geomanuel 8 months ago (Flag)

Thank you very much for your attention and I am glad that this species is introduced here.

Posted by shahrzadasa 8 months ago (Flag)

باعث افتخارین. @shahrzadasa

Posted by nasimnat 8 months ago (Flag)

Congratulations, I wish you success.

Posted by parham_beyhaghi 8 months ago (Flag)

Really wonderful observation @shahrzadasa ! Thanks for sharing it! :)

Posted by sambiology 8 months ago (Flag)

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