We are on the final leg of our journey for this season. After an eight hour train trip from Yerevan, Armenia, we arrived in Tbilisi early in the morning and checked into our hotel near the old city. The next morning we met with our hosts and collaborators at the Botanical Institute. We spent the rest of a pleasant day in hot Tbilisi before heading into the field the following day in the environs of Tbilisi, including a stop at the old capitol of Mtskheta. On day 3 in Georgia, we headed out of Tbilisi for an overnight trip to Bakuriani - a mountain ski village. Along the way we stopped in Gori - home town of Stalin. The Stalin museum was fascinating! Collection localities obtained from our work in the herbarium at the Botanical Institute indicated Camelina sativa was collected from around the high alpine Lake Tabatskuri. While the view was beautiful, we were unable to find Camelina. The following day of collections was much more productive as we travelled the river valleys of the mountain region. On our last day in the field, we headed in the direction of David Gareja - a series of old monasteries near the border with Azerbaijan. The monasteries and chapels were carved out of the rock, sometimes using fire to cause the rock to expand and contract. The area is a semi-desert and Camelina was making its home in the dry, dusty environment. In short, Georgia is a beautiful country with bountiful Camelina and wonderful people. Many thanks to Dr. Shalva (Nukri) Sikharulidze, Dr. George Nakhutsrishvili, Manana (Herbarium Director), and of course our field guide and friend George Tedoradze. Good driving George!
The Botanical Institute in Tbilisi. New herbarium and administrative building is at the entrance to the Tbilisi Botanical Garden. Many thanks to Dr. Shalva (Nukri) Sikharulidze.
Jordan gets a view of Tbilisi from the castle on the hillse
First day of collections outside Tbilisi. There were five of us packed into that Lada, Niva (4x4).
At the end of the collection day we stopped at the old capitol city of Mtskheta and toured the church.
Evan proves once again that he is the most stylish of the group by adorning his noggin with some traditional mountain headwear.
In Gori, Stalin's hometown, Mark has a photo-op with the Soviet Premier.
Inside Stalin's childhood one-room home.
Jordan presses specimens collected in the dry mountains outside Borjomi.
A hawk waits in the high alpine fields surrounding Lake Tabatskuri.
Evan demonstrates his search technique for Camelina.
Jordan, Mark, George Tedoradze (our botanist guide & driver), and Evan pose at the lake.
Mark storms a castle along the Mtkvari (Kura) River and loots it of it's Camelina treasure.
Storks roosting along the roadside in rural Georgia.
The guys discuss fruit size and other characters of a collection that might be C. sativa.
On the final day of collections George, Mark, Jordan, and Evan tour one of the monasteries of David Gareja.
Camelina growing at the monastery site.
Evan climbed the hill behind the monastery to capture this view of the complex and the surrounding area.
Our last excursion in Tbilisi was a trip up the hillside in the funicular.