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Why Grass at Sakhalin is Giant?
December 15, 2009 17:44

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Russian scientists now have an explanation for an interesting natural mystery – why ordinary grass plants become giant, when they grow at the Russian Far East.

Far East of the Russian Federation has many islands. Here, especially at the Sakhalin Island and the Kuril Islands, nature played an unusual trick with vegetation – ordinary herbaceous plants grow into giants. Here a well-known story about famous Russian plant breeder Ivan Michurin, who grew a giant strawberry, climbed it, fell down from it and hurt himself, doesn’t look like an anecdote. If we take Southern Kuril Islands as an example, then here some grasses reach 5 metres in height, and buckwheat grows as high as 3 metres. The most interesting thing is that plant’s giant size doesn’t get “remembered” genetically – scientists performed a simple test to prove it. Seeds of buckwheat from Sakhalin were planted in European part of our vast country, and the plants rapidly returned to their normal small size, which means that giant size is not regulated by genes. There was no explanation for this fact before, but Russian scientists have found the reason for such abnormal behaviour of ordinary plants.



Recently research fellows of the Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics (Far East branch of Russian Academy of Sciences) performed investigation of tall grass communities of twelve sites, located at southern parts of the Sakhalin and Kunashir islands. The research was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, and main scientific results were published in the Ecology scientific magazine. Scientists found out that giant grasses grow not everywhere around Sakhalin and Kunashir, but at specific places of the islands – zones of active tectonic faults, which emit heat.

Researchers paid attention to the bushes of meadowsweet, which reaches 2.7 metres at Sakhalin – twice as much as this grass reaches in central Russia. These bushes were located on acid gley soils of Sakhalin and acid gley-sulphide soils of Kunashir Island. Gley is a water-logged soil with limited oxygen supply, which is located over Earth crust fractures. These fractures allow large amount of heat and oil products to move to plant roots and to be absorbed by plants. Moreover, these sites are notable for increased concentration of microelements, including rare-earth metals, and copper and chrome compounds have higher mobility than they have in other types of soils. Microelements are known to catalyze or promote plant growth.

Authors of the research suggest that this explanation may be applicable to tall grass occasions in other regions with increased seismic activity, Caucasus, Kamchatka and Altay, for instance. If you feel ready to prove theory of the Russian scientists, you can add crushed firestone (from a lighter) to soil of your greenhouse. This firestone is made of iron and cerium (rare-earth metal) alloy and can promote plant growth as growth factors.


Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian Scientists     

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