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THE BAIKAL REGION VEGETATION RESOURCES

Source:  The material is submitted by the Republic of Buryatia National Library

1. The plants
2. The lower vegetation

The Baikal region possesses various vegetation resources. The most valuable ones are the resources of the forests, steppes and meadows, as well as the economically valuable medicinal, food and spicy and aromatic plants.
In the Baikal basin all the endemic and relic species are divided into possibly extinct – 2 plants; threatened plants – 8 plants; decreasing the quantity of the population because the environment violation – 44; rare plants – 79.

1. THE PLANTS

The Juniper

It is an evergreen coniferous shrub 1-3 metres high. It usually grows in the mountains. It is used in popular medicine as an anti-inflammation and disinfectant remedy. Potions and decoctions of the juniper fruits are drunk for respiratory tract diseases. The juniper oil is used for massaging by rheumatism, gout and others. The juniper smells nice. The Buryats worship the plant, use it as the means for cleaning from different negative phenomena. They envelop their homes, possessions and themselves with the juniper smoke and believe that the smoke of that sacred plant cleans them of bad influence. The juniper is in the Red Book of Buryatia.

The Blue Fir-Tree

On the southern shore of the Baikal, as well as at the foot of the Eastern Sayan, near the Arshan health resort one of the most beautiful Siberian plants can be found, the blue fir-tree. It is different from the ordinary one with its bluish needles colour. It is a very beautiful and unpretentious plant. The blue fir-tree lives 400-600 years at an average. Unfortunately, on the southern shore of Lake Baikal the blue fir-tree has been partly cut down in connection with the town of Baikalsk construction, and the rest is gradually getting dry because of the Baikalsk cellulose and paper plant continuous wastes discharge.

The Dauria Rhododendron – the Ledum

It grows all over the Eastern Siberia and makes up thickets. It blossoms in May-June.

The Cowberry

The cowberry thickets can be often found in the forests of Siberia. Sometimes they make up a dense cover. The berries ripen in August-September. It grows in almost all the parts by the Baikal. It produces the effect similar to that of ginseng and stimulates the organism.

The Sagaan Dali

It is a shrub up to 50 cm high. It grows high up in the mountains. It blossoms in late June-July. The popular medicine recommends to use the leaves of that plant for curing diseases. The sagaan dali leaves can be collected throughout summer trying not to harm the plant branches, it should be dried in the shade, out-of-doors or in the attic. The potions of the plant leaves are used for fever, tuberculosis and other diseases. In Tibetan medicine the sagaan dali is known as the plant prolonging life.

The Cedar-Tree

The cedar-tree is one of the most worshipped trees for the people of Siberia. It is up to 30-40 m high, the trunk diametre is 1.8 m, it lives about 500 years. The Siberians used to call it “the bread tree”, because cedar nuts were used to make oil, milk or sour cream. Their nutrition qualities were higher than meat, bread or vegetables. Nowadays the production of them is forgotten because of the cedar forests reduction, or as a result of destructive attitude towards the nuts gathering and the cedars cutting down. In the popular medicine potions of fresh nuts kernels, of nutshells or of needles are used against different diseases, as well as the resin is used for snakes bites or for curing sores. The cedar cones ripen in September.
The cedar wood does not smell strong but the smell is stable, it frightens off the domestic moth. A house made of cedar logs is considered to be healthy for the people living in it. The Buryats did not build houses of Cedar wood before, they used less valuable trees, because the cedar was protected, it was used only for medicinal purposes, and the cedar nuts were used as food. The cedar forests are characteristic of the Eastern Sayan region, the Lena upper reaches and of the north-western slopes of the mountains by the Baikal.

The Cornel

The cornel is a shrub up to 3 m high. It is endemic, very decorative. On the territory of Russia it can be found only in the surroundings of the villages of Arshan, Mondy and down the northern slope of the Eastern Sayan. It is especially beautiful in autumn, when its shining black fruits are clearly seen against the background of amber-purple leaves.

The Sayan Buttercup

It is an endemic species of the south-eastern part of the Eastern Sayan. It grows on the damp banks, along the streams beds, its general quantity is not big. The species is of great scientific interest, because the problem of its origin has not been solved yet.

The Hummel Mannagettea

It parasitizes on the other plants roots, that is why it is fully in the soil. The plant has no real roots, the leaves are scale-like, the seeds are small, with underdeveloped embryo. The flowers corolla is dark-violet, almost black. They resemble a small heap of cones with protruding scales.

The Thyme (The Virgin Herb)

It grows on stony slopes, open sandy places, steppe meadows. It blossoms in June-August. The thyme herb contains up to 1% of volatile oils. For medicinal purposes the upper blossoming part of the plant is gathered. Potions and  decoctions of the thyme are widely used in the popular medicine as the roborant remedy, for nerve diseases or insomnia. A pinch of dried thyme is thrown by a shaman into the fire to have the cleaning rite.

The Ramsons

It is a herb related to the onion. It contains many vitamins, that’s why people have gathered and stored for winter for a long time.
It is gathered since spring for 1.5-2 months. The ramsons is a plant which is easily hurt and reduced because of unsystematic storing up, that’s why it is better to grow it in the garden. It grows almost in all the parts of the Baikal, sometimes there are considerable thickens of it.

The Orchis

It is up to 2-3 high. The flowers making the inflorescence look like a warrior’s helmet. The quantity of the plant reduces because of its natural habitats elimination connected with the lands being ploughed, the tubers being gathered as medicinal material and because the flowers are very beautiful.

2. THE LOWER VEGETATION

Algae

There are 1,085 species and kinds of algae.
The most numerous ones are:
- diatoms – 509 species
- green – 205 species
- blue-green – 90 species
- golden – 28 species
6 genera, 133 species and 62 varieties of algae are endemic.
In the depth more than 450 species of water plants live, in the open pelagic parts – 115. The algae prevail among the ground vegetation (97 species). In the course of evolution a complex of cold-resistant algae has formed in which the biggest role is played by diatoms representing the genera of Melosira, Stephanodiscus, Cyclotella and Nietzschia. In the years not productive for big forms of phytoplankton mass development of ultrananoplankton algae is observed. The cells size of this group of algae is only 1.5-3.0 mcm. Having a great productive potential they are adapted to utilizing small quantities of biogenous elements in the conditions of great water masses dynamics. The quantity of ultrananoplankton algae is 30-70 million and more cells per 1 litre of water.
The development of algae provides the optimal functioning of the whole Baikal biome.
 

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