Alla Khárchenko, Junior Researcher at the Laboratory of Dendrology, Park Design and Landscape Architecture, told Crimean Travel Portal about the thousand-year-old long-lived trees that visitors to the botanical garden can still see today.
Peace symbol with 1200 years of history
The most ancient tree − the European olive − hides in one of the corners of the garden. It is more than 1200 years old! Acquaintance with this unique specimen is not included in the main excursion route, but the visitors to the garden can do it on their own. The plant, which, by the way, is a symbol of peace, can be seen in the palm alleyway. The garden specialists − "tree healers" − try to extend the life of this unique multi-stemmed exhibit − the hollows were sealed, protecting the branches and trunk from decay processes.
By the way, European olive appeared on the Crimean peninsula in the 2nd century BC, it was brought here by Greek settlers. When the botanical garden was organized in 1812, the gardeners specially searched along the South Coast of Crimea and collected surviving specimens of old olives. They grew olives from seeds and gradually saved this heat-loving culture from extinction on the territory of the peninsula. In the NBG, the selection of olives was aimed at obtaining more cold-resistant varieties. In total, about 40 of them were bred here.
Representative of the pre-glacial relict flora
A representative of the pre-glacial relict flora of Crimea lives in the garden − the pistachio (Pistacia atlantica). This powerful native multi-stem plant is over 1000 years old! There are very few such long-lived trees on the peninsula − after all, pistachios grew in the coastal zone of the South Coast, and when it became populated, mass cutting of forestation was carried out. Now pistachio is included in the Red Book.
It is noteworthy that this is not the usual pistachio, the nuts of which can be found on sale. The Crimean pistachio, although it yields abundant quantity of nuts, is inedible. By the way, it has another name − kev or turpentine tree. The resin it forms was previously used in the lacquer and paint industry.
Tree of death and immortality
In the Upper Park of the Garden, in the area of the bamboo grove, you can see another of the oldest plants on Earth that existed in the pre-glacial period. The berry yew has been successfully surviving for more than 5 centuries and is considered a plant relic of the Crimean coast. Usually this slow growing tree with dark green needles can be found in cooler climates, mainly in the mountains, in partial shade. But on the territory of the Nikitsky Botanical Garden, it survived miraculously.
By the way, among the ancient Celts, yew was a symbol of immortality, and hollow trunks were considered the gates to another world.
The oak tree that survived
A majestic specimen of a fluffy oak with a girth of a trunk of several meters is in the area of the viewing platform of the botanical garden, from where a view of the Yalta Bay, Mogabi and Ai-Petri mountains opens. The tree is more than 500 years old and the fact that it still pleases the eyes of garden visitors is a great luck. Under Tsarist Russia, oak forests were step by step cut and sent to the mainland, where strong wood was used as sleepers to build railways. This oak tree miraculously survived the strongest storm that happened in 1912. The strong branches were broken, but the gardeners protected the wood from further decay.
This is the tallest tree in the Nikitsky Botanical Garden − a giant sequoiadendron, its height is about 42 meters. The plant is called the mammoth tree because of its gigantic size and the resemblance of its huge hanging branches to mammoth tusks.
This tree is from North America. At home, on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada in California, the giant sequoia grows in the mountains, in wet places. And here, on the Crimean coast, it suffers from drought and needs a special watering schedule. Fortunately, the gardeners of the NBS take special care of the rare record holder tree and are doing everything possible to preserve the garden's rich plant gene pool.
Address of the Nikitsky Botanical Garden: Yalta, Nikita, 52 Nikitsky Spusk St.