Larch is the most representative
In the early autumn of 1960, in the small American city of Seattle (Washington), the Fifth World Forestry Congress was completed. Representatives of the ever-peaceful profession, who came here from 96 countries, decided to end the congress with the creation of the Peoples' Friendship Park. In the central alley, each delegation had to plant a national tree of their country. It was the turn of the Soviet representative. To the sounds of the national anthem of our country, he headed to the landing site. A young American walked to his right with a red banner, a girl with a spade and a seedling of a national tree walked to the left.
What tree had the honor of representing the world's main forest power on American soil? In our country, more than 1700 domestic species of woody plants grow, as well as about 2000 species of foreign origin. So choose from them the most worthy tree. But the Soviet foresters came to a unanimous decision quite quickly: larch became their chosen one. Fair decision! If in doubt, look at the map of our country.
A wide belt stretched forests from west to east through all of Russia. Almost half of this area is occupied by larch, more than a quarter of a billion hectares - from Lake Onega to the Sea of Okhotsk. Five countries such as France can freely accommodate in the area occupied by larch. So many vast forests do not form any other tree species in the world. This is the most representative forest tree.
Larch is famous for its longevity. True, she lives in comparison with other breeds not so long: about 400-500 years, but her wood used in constructions is extremely resistant. For many hundreds and even thousands of years, it is perfectly preserved, acquiring over time more and more strength and original color. Even now, in the thick thickets of the Siberian taiga, one can often find the remains of ancient fortresses built by the soldiers of Khan Kuchum. Five centuries ago, larch logs were laid in them, and no damage is visible.
A lot of larch products were also found during excavations of the famous Pazyryk mounds in Altai. For more than 25 centuries they have lain untouched by time. These unique witnesses of the eternal youth of larch are now stored in the State Hermitage in St. Petersburg. There you can see log cabins of grave crypts, sarcophagus decks, war chariots with wheels woven from the roots of larch. All this was made back in the Bronze Age by nomad bronze axes. For millennia, ancient products only darkened and acquired the hardness of the stone. Are these transformations wonderful? True, during life, larch is largely unusual.
Straight, like columns, larch trees are real forest giants. 30-40 meters in height is not the limit for them, they are also 50-meter with a trunk thickness of up to 2 meters. Larch forests give a record amount of wood per hectare for all our species: up to 1,500 cubic meters or more.
Larch wood is used in modern shipbuilding, in the manufacture of aircraft, automobiles, and in mechanical engineering. Without special impregnation, it goes to sleepers and telegraph poles and is especially good for moorings, bridges, dams, where, as they say, it does not know demolition.
But people are not content only with wood, but turn it into many useful terms. From one cubic meter of larch wood, using the miracle woman of chemistry, 200 kilograms of cellulose or the same amount of grape sugar, 2,000 pairs of stockings or 1,500 meters of silk fabric, 6,000 square meters of cellophane or 700 liters of wine alcohol are obtained. Dozens and hundreds of other valuable substances are made from larch wood products: turpentine and acetic acid, rosin and sealing wax, matches and much more. Tannins are extracted from larch wood for leather dressing and dyeing of fabrics, and essential oil is extracted from needles. However, a tree, during its lifetime, gives a high-quality resin, or, as it is commonly called on the world market, a Venetian turpentine. It is obtained by counting growing trees and is widely used in the electrical and paint industry.
Specialists attribute larch to coniferous plants, but unlike spruce or pine, it annually dumps its green outfit for the winter. Due to the ability to dump larch every year, it got its name. However, the renewal of needles is a privilege of trees, and larch shoots retain needles even in winter. Apparently, in ancient times, larch was an evergreen tree and only then adapted to the harsh conditions of the north. Indeed, dropping needles, it thereby reduces the evaporation of water by the crown in winter. It is necessary to save, because the roots are not able to absorb moisture from through the frozen soil.
Larch is especially good in spring and autumn. Its long, thin yellow-straw branches in early spring together (in just one or two warm, fine days) are colored with thick brushes of delicate bright green needles. Against their emerald background, like the lights of a Christmas tree, reddish, pink or green cone lights and yellow spikelets "flash" one after another. Larch is festively beautiful at this time. A light breeze raises clouds of golden pollen above their crowns. Pollination is in progress.
Larch is a monoecious plant: female cones and male spikelets are located on the same tree.
Over time, the color of the needles darkens, its growth stops, and then numerous small cones turn brown, ripening. At the end of summer or early autumn, larch again appears in a festive, this time golden-orange, outfit. Majestic larch forest at this time of the year. It seems that the harsh Siberian taiga from edge to edge is illuminated by a gentle golden glow. Whether you fly over the taiga, or swim these days along the Yenisei or Lena, Aldan or Kolyma, it seems as if you were lost in a vast sparkling larch ocean. Only Siberian frost has the power to tame this universal autumn radiance. The first strong frost will hit, and the golden needles will quietly grow from the trees. But as the taiga violently rustles with the first cold winds. In just a few days, larch trees lose their magnificent dress, and they remain bare all winter in the face of brutal elements. True, the larch is not from a timid dozen: it calmly meets snow blizzards, generously scattering its small winged seeds just in the winter. She had a lot of them in small but numerous brownish cones.
However, larch and drought are just as successful. It is no coincidence that foresters of Ukraine and the Kuban, Volga and Moldavia planted it so eagerly in shelterbelts.
It fully justifies their trust, grows rapidly and quickly coexists with the sultry south.
Forestry qualities of larch are also appreciated. The speed of its growth, undemanding to soils and the ability to form both clean and mixed forest stands speak for themselves. At Zelenogorsk, near St. Petersburg, and now you can see a unique larch grove, which was laid down by decree of Peter the Great by the "forest man" Fokel. This is the first and, as time has confirmed, a very successful attempt to artificially breed such a tree species that deserves it. Now Soviet foresters cultivate larch everywhere. Of the 20 species of larch genus that exist in the world, we have 14 specialists. Some species live in the Carpathians, others in Sakhalin, and others in the Kuril Islands.
However, preference is usually given to Siberian larch, the one that grows in the Peoples' Friendship Park on American soil. True, this is not the first commemorative tree of such an unusual breed. Back in 1706, in memory of the foundation of the Pharmaceutical Garden in Moscow, Peter I planted larch with his own hands. This larch has lived for more than a quarter of a millennium, the distant Moscow outskirts long ago turned into the central avenue of the World, and the Pharmaceutical Garden into the now old botanical garden of Moscow University. She witnessed many signs of the time.
Just about Peter's larch, one of the Soviet foresters said: “That's where the proud words came from: the trees die standing.” In fact, the Petrovsky Veteran Tree is magnificent even now that only a few branches are alive on it. But the baton of generations has already been handed over; his young descendant has already taken the honorary shift from the old memorial tree. The garden workers lovingly landed it nearby on the 250th anniversary of the former Pharmaceutical Garden.