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THE CRIMEA AND ITS FLORA

Дата публикации: 16 сентября 2021
Автор(ы): Vladimir SHATKO
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Рубрика: БИОЛОГИЯ
Номер публикации: №1631778349


Vladimir SHATKO, (c)

by Vladimir SHATKO, Cand. Sc. (Biol.), Senior Researcher of the Tsitsin Main Botanical Gardens, RAS

 

Since the times of "the father of botany", the 18th century Swedish natural scientist Carolus Linnaeus, who introduced the binary classification in Latin into scientific usage, each new plant is given its family name (the genus name in the first place) and species name. Next follows the name of the scientist (full or abbreviated), who was the first to describe the finding. The author of this article has studied wild plants of the Crimea during his numerous business trips. But what is at the back of names of at least some plants from the list exceeding 2,500 local species?

 
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When you turn over "The Indicator of Higher Plants of the Crimea", you see an abundance of such names as "Krymsky" or "Tavrichesky", numbering over fifty. It is a kind of declaration of love to a place, where botanists first found them. Among other toponyms reflected in the names of species, one name is mentioned most frequently, i.e. Koktebel tulip (Tulipa koktebelica), Koktebel spiny dogfish (Crambe koktebelica), etc. They got their names from the famous Koktebel*, a settlement among mountains and hills spread on the coast of a bay close to the ancient Kara-dag volcano**, the most unique natural sanctuary of the Crimea. Therefore, the Koktebel plants grow near Karadag ones, such as Karadag hawthorn (Crataegus karadaghensis), Karadag wheat grass (Agropyron kara-daghense), etc. Altogether, the 20 km2 Karadag area comprises almost a half (over 1,200) of species of the Crimea! There are even such plants there, which cannot be met anywhere else on our planet, for example, Poyarkova hawthorn (Crataegus pojarkoviae), Yunge desert-candle (Eremurus jungei), Transhel anthemis (Anthemis tranzsheliana), versicolored skullcap (Scutellaria heterochroa), etc.

 

Besides, the Crimean flora includes Mithridathes spurdog (Crambe mitridatis) and Cimmerian woodruff (Asperula cimmerica). Their names are related to the legendary Cimmeria, a region east of Sudak and spread to the Cimmerian Bosphorus (Kerch Strait). Poet and artist Maksimilian Voloshin (1877-1932) gave such name to the eastern part of the Crimea, and it came into use, though it is not marked on maps.

 

Plants, which grow on the Crimean mountains called yailas, bear appropriate definitions in their names, for example, yaila potentilla (Potentilla jailae), yaila germander (Teucrium jailae), yaila flax (Linum jailae), etc. Most of these plants are endemic (are found only there).

 

We turn over pages of the indicator and find Sudak, or Stankevich, pine (Pinus stankewiczii). It is obvious: it

 

See: V. Shatko, "A Land of Blue Hills", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2005.–Ed.

 

** See: L. Mironova, V. Shatko, "Relics of Crimean Flora", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2004.–Ed.

 
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grows in an area of the town of Sudak. Its another name is in honor of Vladimir Stankevich, a member of the Petersburg Forest Institute, who was the first to identify it in the vicinity of Sudak in 1905. His herbarium helped the botanist and geographer Academician Vladimir Sukachev describe new species of pine in 1906. This beautiful and imposing tree with long emerald needles and a light relief bark is met also in the western part of the southern coast of the Crimea, on Cape Aiya. The light and filled with pine fragrance forests of Sudak pine and Greek juniper are the most ancient on the peninsula and, therefore, are of great scientific value. The Novy Svet botanical reserve and the Cape Aiya landscape reserve were established to preserve the discussed species. A lot of plants have epithets for species, like "Pontic" or "Euxinic". For example, Pontic feather-grass (Stipa pontica), Pontic Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum ponticum), Euxinic sea rocket (Cakile euxina). They reflect the Black Sea component of the Crimea, as Euxine Pontus is the ancient name of the Black Sea.

 

But the most noteworthy are perhaps those plants, which were named in honor of known natural scientists, who studied the nature of the Crimea. Fifteen species were named in honor of baron Friedrich August Marschall von Bieberstein (1768-1826)–an outstanding natural scientist and one of the best experts in plants of the Russian south in late 18th-earlyl9th centuries. He was born in Stuttgart (Germany) and graduated from the privileged Hohe Karlschule there. In 1792, he came to Russia and was hired for civil service. He spent two following years in the Crimea, where he "passionately studied plants, got acquainted with the famous Pallas and, with his approval, was sent with the count Zubov to Persia in 1796". Later on Emperor Pavel I appointed Bieberstein senior inspector of silk farming in the Southern Russia. This job involved numerous business trips, during which he thoroughly studied the nature of the Empire from the lower reaches of the Volga and the Dnieper to North Caucasia and Georgia. In the spring of 1800, together with the then young Christian von Steven he made a journey to Caucasia, and in 1804, he started for Europe to study natural-scientific collections of plants in Germany and France. It was very important for him, as he prepared for publication his work Flora Taurico-Caucasica, which was published in Kharkov in 1808-1819 and included 2,322 plant species with 302 plants being described for the first time. Today it is a rare book, which contains, among

 
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other things, also illustrations of plants painted and colored by Yakov Mattes-a brilliant graphic artist, teacher of painting and engraving at the Kharkov University (until 1815), and later on he worked as a painter at the St. Petersburg Botanical Gardens.

 

The herbarium collections of Bieberstein are kept now at Komarov Botanical Institute in St. Petersburg (5,000 specimens), at Lomonosov Moscow State University, Tartu University (Estonia) and also in Paris and Oxford.

 

It should be noted that his name is given to a small tulip (Tulipa biebersteiniana) with yellow flowers found in the steppe and piedmont areas of the peninsula and bursting into blossom rather early, in April, Corydalis marcshalliana, growing in mountain forests, Dianthus marcshallii and Linum marcshallianum, which vegetate on dry open slopes. But Cerastium biebersteinii or Crimean edelweiss is perhaps the most known. It is a low trailing plant with small narrow and thick downy leaves covered with multiple silver hais and, therefore, seems white-silver. It forms low dense "pillows", which sometimes occupy considerable areas. In late spring it forms numerous delicate snow-white flowers somehow resem-

 
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bling an edelweiss (though not even related to its Crimean namesake and belongs to another–the Compositae family). It wears such dress almost for a month. The Crimean edelweiss is well known to national florists, and it can be met now far from the Crimea, even in the Arctic circle; it is an indispensable attribute of so popular now Alpine or rock gardens.

 

Six plants of the Crimean natural flora are named in honor of the great natural scientist of the Catherine the Great epoch Academician Pyotr Simon Pallas (1741-1811). A German by birth, he studied at the Berlin Medico-Surgical College and then at the universities of Halle and Göttingen. He came to Russia by invitation of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1767, where he spent a major part of his life (43 years). By order of Empress Catherine the Great, who highly estimated his merits, Pallas left for the Crimea in 1793, where he lived and studied its nature for 16 years. His numerous collections and knowledge enriched not only botany but also geography, geology, zoology and ethnography. His Travels Through Southern Provinces of Russia in 1793-1794 is rightfully considered an encyclopedia of Tauri-

 
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da. Unfortunately, a major part of his extensive and valuable herbarium collection happened to be outside Russia: in London (the British Museum) and Berlin (Institute of Botanical Museum). Only a small portion of specimens is kept at the Komarov Botanical Institute and Moscow State University.

 

The name of this scientist is immortalized in six names of representatives of the Crimean flora. For instance, one of the characteristic plants of local mountains is called Pallas or Crimean pine (Pinus pallasiana). He paid attention to this pine during his visit to the Southern coast of the Crimea and called it "maritime" pine. Only later, in 1818, British botanist David Don gave it the name of Pallas.

 

In May on open mountain slopes one can see groves of low flax with rather large yellow flowers, i.e. endemic Pallas flax (Linum pallasianum). In autumn in the eastern Crimea among dried up grass of hills suddenly appears a big bright lilac flower with orange veins, or Pallas crocus (Crocus pallasii), which springs up directly from the earth without any leaves. There are other plants, such as wonderful Pallas cock's-head (Onobrychis

 
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pallasii), a big, of man's height, herbaceous plant from the legumes with a cluster of white-rose flowers; Pallas forest larkspur (Delphinium pallasii=D.fissum) with blue flowers; oddly downy, low and almost trailing Pallas oxytrope (Oxytropis pallasii) with cream-colored flower heads.

 

Christian Steven (1781-1863) is the best known among researchers, who studied the Crimean nature. His name is usually associated with the Nikitsky Botanical Gardens, whose origin and formation are absolutely Steven's merit. The botanist to-be was born in a small Finnish town Fredrikshamn, studied at the Jena University (Germany) and then at the Military Medical Academy in Petersburg, which graduated in 1799 and received a doctor's degree (Medicine). From 1815 Steven was a corresponding member and from 1849 an honorary member of Petersburg Academy of Sciences. In 1807 he came to the Crimea for the first time and lived there till the end of his life. He made himself a name through long fruitful studies of flora and entomofauna of the Crimea and Caucasia. He prepared extensive collections and described more than 100 new plant species.

 

His research work resulted in publication in 1854-1857 of the most comprehensive review of the Crimean flora, which numbered 1,654 species. He presented his herbarium and library to the Helsingfors (today Helsinki) University, part of his books to the Odessa lyceum, and a collection of insects to the Moscow University. Nowadays a part of his herbarium is kept in many European centers, namely, in Berlin, Oxford, Vienna, Geneva, Munich and Florence.

 

Undoubtedly, the Nikitsky Botanical Garden's have become the best memorial to the scientist, and the plants named in his honor are a proof of the gratitude of descendants. Among them we can mention the Stevenia genus from the Cruciferae family and the Steveniella genus from the Orchidaceae family, and also 25 species of Caucasian and Crimean flora. The latter includes Acer stevenii, a 15 m high tree, growing in moun-tains; Hesperis steveniana, a rather big herbaceous perennial tree from the family with multiple modest lilac flowers, blossoming out in mid spring; Cruciferae, Helianthemum stevenii, a miniature squat shrub, it grows on rocks and is especially beautiful in May due to

 
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numerous bright yellow flowers. There are also such plants as Crataegus stevenii, Alchemilla stevenii, Asperula stevenii, Heracleum stevenii, an ordinary plant of bright forests of the Crimean southern coast, and almost unnoticeable Cerastium stevenii, a small annual plant from the carnation family.

 

The significant contribution to studies of the Crimean flora was made not only by famous scientists but also by modest research workers. Among them is Vera Sarandinaki (1878-1963), a tireless researcher of the eastern Crimean flora. After graduation from college with a gold medal, she studied botany, floristics and phytogeography at the Higher Women's Natural Science Courses in Petersburg. During summer field works she gathered with great enthusiasm herbaria of plants in Azov steppes and on the eastern Crimean mountains, then worked hard on them in Petersburg under supervision of notable national botanists Vladimir Komarov (Academician from 1920) and Boris Fedchenko. From 1917 she lived in Feodosiya and worked at the Karadag biological station and at Starokrymsky regional forestry, where she studied local flora. One of the centaury species (Centaurea sarandinakiae), found on Karadag in 1957, was named in honor of Sarandinaki. It is a 30-40 cm high rare plant with patterned leaves and delicate dark pink flowers blossoming out in early summer.

 

Species of feather-grass and campion (Stipa syreist-schikowiiSilene syreistschikowii) are named in honor of Dmitry Syreishchikov (1868-1932), a brilliant natural scientist, an expert in flora of the central Russia and a keeper of the herbarium of Moscow State University. He traveled a lot and brought interesting plants from all regions, including the Crimea.

 

Nonprofessionals and collectors also contributed to the studies of the Crimean flora. Most of all they were attracted by rare species such as orchids. But though their flowers are not as big, exotic and richly colored as those of their tropical relatives, some of them are really extraordinary in their own way. Compeha compehana is an unconditional "queen". Here is its history. Early in the 19th century two brothers Compere lived in the western Crimea. Elder brother Carl graduated from the famous Paris Polytechnical School, then settled down in the Crimea and for more than 20 years gathered a herbarium of local plants, which he sent for processing to famous botanists Christian Steven in Simferopol, Fyodor Fisher in Petersburg and Alphonse de Candoll in Geneva. In 1829, he discovered a new orchid, which Steven described as orchis of "Compere", and later on, in 1907, the botanist Asher proved that the plant was worthy of separation into a particular species and named it comperia. Thus, the most famous and rare Crimean orchid carries in its name, the name of its discoverer Carl Compere twice.

 

For a long time it had been considered an endemic species, but it was found out later that apart from the Crimea it was met on the opposite coast of the Black Sea, namely, in the north of Turkey.

 

Several plant species are named in honor of Alexander Junge (1872-1921), the owner of an estate in Koktebel and an initiator of modern wine-making there. Besides, he studied botany, published several papers on the Crimean flora and described a new species, i.e. the Koktebel tulip. Also, his name was given to a desert-candle (Ere-murus jungei), a big plant from the Liliaceae family with a linear leaf rosette and a high (up to 1.5 m) flower stalk, which forms a multitude of yellowish flowers. This unique plant is met only on Karadag, in a hard-to-reach rocky place, and therefore it is not easy to see it.

 

Many other representatives of the Crimean flora keep in their names memory of the history and people of the native land. For example, in the eastern Crimea, where underdeveloped areas of the coast are frequent even now, on the seashore one can see a rather rare shrub, Nitraria schoberi. It has small thick leaves and plain whitish flowers, which turn into black small fruits in late summer. It is named after Gottlieb Schober (1670-1739), physician in ordinary to Peter the First. He was inspector of the Moscow Imperial Pharmacy and physician of the Medical Office. Schober studied hot mineral springs in Samara Region and proved their curative properties for treatment of many diseases. He was author of a number of scientific works.

 

Another, also a very rare plant, is Rindera tetraspis from the borage family described by Pallas himself and named in honor of doctor of medicine Andrei Rinder (1700?-1771), who discovered this extremely rare plant. Recently, expeditions of the Tsitsin Main Botanical Gardens discovered new places of its vegetation on Tark-hankut and the Yenishar mountains in the eastern Crimea.

 

This is only a small part of the names reflected in the mirror of Crimean botany.

Опубликовано на Порталусе 16 сентября 2021 года

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