Wild plants are a major source of raw materials used by man in various sectors of industry. Original relict flora of Primorye Territory includes over 2.5 thousand vascular plant species, and boasts highly abundant genetic resources of beneficial plants. Pinus koraiensis Siebold et Zucc, a basic forest-forming species, grows exclusively in the Russian Far East, and nowhere else in Russia, as also do such valuable medicinal plants like the legendary Panax ginseng C. A. May., Aralia elata (Miq.) Seem., A. continentalis Kitag., Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. et Maxim.) Maxim., the ligneous lianas Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill., Vitis amurensis Rupr., three species of the genus Actinidia Lindl., and the endemic monotypical Sikhote Alin genus Microbiota decussata Kom. This is also the range of Glycine soja Siebold et Zucc., a wild soya species which according to some biologists is an ancestor of cultured soya cultivars, an exceptionally valuable food and fodder leguminous culture. The region is also famous for its nectariferous, decorative and other useful plants. Their purposeful and scientifically-based study was conducted ever since academic research was initiated in Primorye. At first (1932-1940) investigations were performed on the basis of the Alpine Taiga Station by a small group of biologists (Koliada, 1995). With organization of the Far East Science Center and to the present time, comprehensive basic studies of resources are being conducted to involve specialists of various profiles and institutions, and research is not restricted to Primorye. Today, manifold knowledge on the useful properties of Russian Far Eastern plants has been accumulated and published in monographs and papers. We have compiled a data bank with almost 500 references from the literature. By analyzing these data, we have distinguished basic groups of useful plants from Primorye flora.
Food and fodder plants constitute an
economically important group. Over one hundred fruit and berry plants have
been revealed that may be used in food (Ismodenov, 1972). Of special value
are Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill., Actinidia arguta (Siebold et
Zucc.) Planch. ex Miq., A. kolomikta (Maxim.)
Maxim., Lonicera caerulea L., L. edulis Turcz. Ex Freyn, Vitis amurensis,
numerous species from the genera Ribes L., Rubus L., Rosa L., Vaccinum
L. and others that play a major role in providing the population with vitamins,
notably in the northern areas of Primorye. Wild forms of current and honeysuckle
are widely used by selectioners in creating new cultured plant cultivars.
The following wild fruit arboreal plants are promising genetic material:
Armeniaca mandshurica (Maxim.) B. Skvortz., A. sibirica (L.) Lam., Cerasus
argentii (Rehd.) Pojark., Malus asiatica Nakai, M. mandshurica (Maxim.)
Kom., and Pyrus ussuriensis Maxim., which are not infrequently used by
gardeners as rootstock for valuable cultured plant varieties. People use
certain Far Eastern plants with bactericide-fungicide-protozoacide functions,
in fresh, sour and pickled form, e.g. Allium ochotense Prokh., A. schoenopra
sum L. and other onion species. Recently, salads prepared from some species
of Stellaria Bungena Fenzl., S. media (L.) Vill., Caltha fistulosa Schipcz.,
Taraxacum sp., Osmundastrum asiaticum (Fern.) Tagawa, Pteridium aquilinum
(L.) Kuhn, previously all traditionally Korean and Japanese dishes,
have become popular with local Russian people.
Plants containing natural fragrant and aromatic substances are of major significance for the food industry. One hundred and forty four species of essential-oil plants have been revealed in the flora of the Russian Far East (Supruov, Gorovoi, Pankov, 1972). A large portion of promising species belongs to the families Apiaceae Lindl., Araliaceae Juss., Cupressaceae Rich ex Bartl., Lamiaceae Lindl. and Rutaceae Juss., whose representatives grow preferentially in Southern Primorye. Fruits of Vaccinium vitis-idaea L., Viburnum sargentii Koechne and Schisandra chinensis (Turcz.) Baill. are widely used as aromatizers and dyes in manufacturing confectioneries. However, such valuable essential-oil plants as Microbiota decussata and certain rare species of the genus Juniperus L. cannot be used for industrial purposes.
The most highly valued among fodder plants are Gramineae, Leguminosae and Carex. Forty-four Graminiae species valued as fodder from the genera Poa L., Festuca L., Bromopsis Fourr., Elymus L., and Agrostis L., have been suggested for selection work (Probatova, 1993). Of forty wild Leguminosae examined for fodder value, twenty species from the genera Vicia L., Lathyrus L., Lespedeza Michx., Kummerowia Schindl., Astragalus L. and Hedy sarum L. are promising for fodder manufacture in Primorye (Pavlova, 1987). In content of protein, fat and other chemically important compounds, many of them are not inferior to cultivated fodder cultures, and in some cases surpass them in biological properties.
According to V. V. Progunkov (1988),
nectariferous plant resources constitute approximately 200 species, half
of which have paramount significance. The following are especially valuable
nectariferous plants: Toilia amurensis Rupr., T. mandshurica Rupr., T.
taquetii Schneid., and also Phellodendron amurense Rupr., Lespedeza bicolor
Turcz., all representatives of the families Araliaceae Juss. And Aceraceae
Juss., various species of Craetegus L., Lonicera L., Malus Mill., Polygonum
L., Ribes L., Rubus L., Salis L., Trifolium L., Viburnum L., Juglans mandshurica
Maxim., Cimicifuga dahurica (Turcz.) Maxim., Maackia amurensis Rupr. et
Maxim, Padus maackii (Rupr.) Kom. and many others. Primorye honey with
added Schisandra chinensis is of special medicinal value.
Russian Far East flora is abundantly represented by decorative plants, and many trees, shrubs, lianas and herbaceous plants are used in landscaping populated areas in and outside Primorye (Skripka, 1960; Zhuravkov, 1968). Botanical Garden botanists are developing methods for cultivating rare and exotic local flora species. Today, Schisandra, Actinidia, wild grapes, high-bush cranberry, mock orange, Aralia, Rhododendron cuspidata and the rare beautifully blooming shrub as Rhododendron schlippenbachii are grown on plots of land attached to private residences. Numerous indigenous Graminiae, Leguminosae and other plant species may now be used with success to improve plant resistance to erosion and to biologically restore artificial landscapes.
Primorye presents singular interest for revealing, scrutinizing and utilizing medicinal plants. G. E. Kurentsova (1954) studied this problem for many years, but A. I. Shreter (1975) took fuller stock of Primorye’s medicinal plant species. He revealed as many as 1,000 Far Eastern species of medicinal plant, many of which have long been used by peoples of East Asia, and some are even included in complex prescriptions of Chinese and Japanese folk medicine that modern medicine has yet to study. Those belonging to unique Far Eastern medicinal plant are Panax ginseng and its closest relatives, Aralia elata an A. continentalis, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Oplopanax elatus (Nakai) Nakai, and also Schisandra chinensis and Rhodioloa rosea L., known as valuable adaptogens (Balandin, 1951; Brekhman, 1957; Dardymov, Khasina, 1993). The Russian Ministry of Health allowed nearly 100 plant species to be used by the nation’s practitioners. Primorye’s pharmacies have quite a few medicinal preparations obtained from plant raw materials. As a substitute for the expensive ginseng, the extract of Eleutherococcus is widely used in practical medicine and veterinary for prevention of disorders in adaptation and rehabilitation after various diseases. Many plants are included in the composition of medicinal balsams, and are used in the confectionery, fish, hard-liquor, and perfumery industries.
Primorye’s flora contains gutta-percha-yielding (Eunonymus L. species), tannin yielding (Bergenia pacifica Kom., Filipendula Adans., Polygonum L., Salix L., and Sanguisorba L. species), resiniferous (representatives of the families Pinaceae Lindl., Cupressaceae Rich. ex Bartl.), dyeing (Lithospermum erhythrorhizon Siebold et Zucc.), fibrous and other useful plants.
The principal item of industrial utilization
of local flora involves arboreal plant species, which provide the country
with construction timber. These include Picea ajanensis (Lindl. et Gord.)
Fisch. Ex Carr, Abies nephrolepis (Trautv.) Maxim., Larix cajanderi Mayr,
and till recently also Pinus koraiensis Siebold et Zucc., which was a basic
export product. Uncontrolled felling had depleted its resources, and today
it is subject to to strict protection. Again, Phellodendron amurense Rupr.,
Acer L., Alnus Gaertn., Betula L., Chosenia Nakai, Fraxinus L., Salix L.
and other species are used as manufacturing material. Most plants have
several useful qualities and could be used in a number of sectors.
An analysis of vascular plants from the viewpoint of their usefulness allows to regard Primorye as a promising region for utilizing some of its economically important flora species, provided all respective rules and norms in exploiting plant resources and in searching for new ones are observed. In this case, one should know and remember that many valuable plants of the region, given their ecobiological properties, rarely occur in nature and cannot be purveyed in unlimited quantities. Many species disappear owing to lengthy and irrational exploitation of their reserves, and also due to unfavorable ecological conditions.
N. PAVLOVA, Institute of
Biology and Soil Science, Far East Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences.