LARCHWOOD (Larix olgensis) FORESTS

    In Primorye, native (natural) larchwood forests have very limited distribution to occupy as a rule habitats unfavorable to other forest-forming species. These are mostly perpetually water-logged and bogged floors of intermontane depressions, e.g. the lower sections of Bikin and Ussuri river basins, flat expansions of river valleys in the plain-piedmont areas of Primorye, and wide low coastal terraces in the north.
    The most widespread are herbaceous larchwood occupying 30-35% of the Primorye’s total larchwood area. With worsening of habitat drainage and greater bogging, moss-shrub (Vaccinium ulginosum, Betula midendorfii, Ledum spp., etc.) forests form to be followed by moss (Spagnosum) larchwood forests. The tree stock quality in herbaceous types normally corresponds to class III, occasionally II; but in the extreme row links of increased moistening it can decline to class IV; the quality of shrub types is not over class IV, and that of sphagnum types is V and lower. Most of these forests are included in different-purpose protective belts.
    Larchwood forests occupying bogged depressions in the central areas of basalt plateaus of the main Sikhote Alin watershed present special interest, being as it were a botanic-geographic curiosity of Primorye, since they “reproduce” in miniature in the south of the Russian Far East landscapes typical of more northerly regions. Besides, they are seed reservations.
    Secondary larchwood forests, arising after fires, chiefly in spruce-fur forests, occupy quite considerable areas in central and northern Primorye. Many of them regrow and have a second tier formed by fur and spruce. Mature spruce-fur forests with participation of old large larchwood trees also occur. This shows that in the presence of fur and spruce seed sources near fire-causing larchwood forests dark coniferous forests, return to their former condition, albeit slowly. All forests with prevalent Larix spp occupy less than 20 percent of the forest-covered area of Primorye.