I had read a lot about Lazovsky Zapovednik and
In the pictures above are the sign for
I later went to
This picture is at the entrance to the yew tree grove, what
There are 8 total species of yew trees, and the species found in the Russian Far East is the Japanese yew tree (тис остроконечный). It is also known as the “red tree” due to its very red wood, as you can see in the picture above. (This tree branch was broken in a storm.)
Yew tree wood is not only red but also very durable; it doesn’t rot. Above is a yew tree that is completely hollow inside (you can test it by dropping a pinecone in one of the holes at the top – it will come out at the bottom) – but is still alive. Yew trees used to be very common in the forests of Primorye and the Russian Far East, but now you can only find individual trees here and there, and yew trees are officially listed as a rare species. There are only 10 such “groves” of yew trees left in Primorye like the grove on
Yew trees have quite the crowns, and their tops let through very little light. That’s the reason there is almost no undergrowth in
Yew trees grow very slowly, and a 30-year-old tree will only be about 3-4 feet high. Yew trees only bear fruit after about 100 years! The yew trees in the grove on
In fact the yew trees starting growing up around the remains of the dwellings of ancient peoples. Archeologists have found the remains of 23 dwellings in the yew tree grove, and a total of 100 dwellings on the whole island. In the picture above it looks like someone placed stones around this yew tree. In fact those stones are the remains of an ancient house! Archeologists think that the seeds for the tree fell into an ancient chimney that had since collapsed, and the tree is growing out of that chimney. Moreover, the trail that visitors walk along through the yew tree grove was not created by cutting down trees and clearing a path – it already existed. It’s possible that the trail was actually an ancient street from when people used to live here hundreds of years ago.
This picture is not a bunch of rocks; it is the remains of the wall of an ancient fortress. The wall doesn’t go all the way around the island, but rather just at the lower elevations on the northern end, since the island’s sharp, high rocky slopes (cliffs, really) provide protection on all other sides. The highest point on
Back to ancient cultures: a total of 5 cultures lived on
The yew tree grove is home to other trees besides just yews. Here is a linden tree with huge knobs on it. The knobs are a sign of some kind of disease, and on the mainland a tree with these kinds of knobs would certainly not live long. Yet this linden continues to grow on
This is a 5-trunked linden tree at the end of the yew tree grove. There is another 5-trunked linden at the end of the tour of
This is the most interesting composition of lindens and a yew tree next to each other on
(Another view of the same linden and yew – from this angle it seems like they are dancing!) Of course, there are fairy tales to explain why the linden and yew have grown together this way here. According to one legend, an ancient warrior was returning back to
In total, in addition to the linden tree that is growing right on the yew tree branch, there are 5 other lindens here. Thus there is another legend about this yew and linden composition. The last, great empire of ancient peoples on the island, who were exceptional warriors (both men and women), were fighting the Mongols. The leader of the ancient tribe realized that they were defeated. He and his son were on the mainland, and he sent his son back to
Here is a view of the same linden with the large knobs on it. This spot is called the “fairy-tale clearing,” although I’m not sure why – except that to me, if did feel like one of the most magical, energy-filled spots in the yew tree grove. The twisted vine on the left side of the picture is in fact a vine, not a tree! It is a liana, and it is the second largest liana in the Russian Far East. It is 37 cm in diameter, while most lianas are 5-7 cm across maximum. Below are a couple more views of it. Pretty amazing.
The tree that Nadya is leaning against in the picture above is called a “cork tree.” Its bark (which feels kind of like cork) is really used to make cork (like for wine bottles, etc.), and actually, if you strip its bark off correctly, it doesn’t harm the tree – the bark will grow back and even be of better quality. There are not many of these trees left now in Primorye, however, because many cork trees were harvested for their timber. Cork trees’ black berries also have medicinal uses, e.g. against colds. The Chinese call this tree the “black pearl.” There is a legend that a Chinese emperor had a favorite pearl, a black pearl. He used to like to take it out in the evening and look at it in the palm of his hand on the shore of the river in the sunset, when it caught the light and made beautiful colors. One day a strong wind blew the pearl away into the river and downstream. Although the emperor’s servants searched for the pearl, they never found it. But downstream a tree grew up, and in the fall it was covered with black berries – black pearls.
This tree is called “demorfant” in Russian, and I cannot find what it is in English. It is cool because it protects itself against being eaten by deer when it is young – it has little needles on its bark. The needles stay around up to 50 years, and we could still feel them in a couple of places on this tree. (Honestly, I’ve never been a huge botany fan, but I learned so much interesting stuff on
These tourists are standing under a Mongolian oak, which does not grow in
This is one of the 5 natural springs on
In the Chinese historical chronicles there is a story of an island inhabited only by women, where there was a spring like this one. A woman who looked into the spring would give birth to a son in 9 months. (How the island remained a place with only women with all those boys getting born is another question…)
The ancient peoples of
Below is a Korean pine tree. They say that a Korean pine tree will absorb negative energy from you – but not if you touch it as this little girl is touching it. Instead you should stand with the back of your head, you spine and the backs of your calves touching the tree.
Here is a ripe, green Korean pine cone along the cliffs of the coast of Petrov
And here below are the remains of a ripe pine cone that a squirrel ate. The Korean pine is a very important tree in Primorye’s forests, and its bark, wood and pine cones (nuts) are all used. However, much Korean pine has been logged in the past and continues to be logged (often illegally) today. It grows in virgin forests.
There are 396 species of plants on
In fact the real explanation is probably that people lived constantly on
These are the roots of a huge fallen Korean pine. You can see that there are stones in the roots – this pine was growing on ancient peoples’ artifacts. Archeologists sure were excited when this pine fell, as they cannot do any digging on
There are 4 rocks that look just like this one on
There has only been one fire on
Visitors today are not allowed to smoke on the island, of course.
This is a spot where archeologists think ancient peoples may have made animal sacrifices to the gods (on the stones below).
This bay is called the
At the top of the cliff over the coast of the
The yew tree above is a wishing tree. It has a lot of holes in it that are like ears, so it can listen to the wishes you whisper to it. But you should wish for only non-material things, and then your wishes might come true. Here some visitors are wishing away. I have to say that all the visitors I saw on the trail on Petrov Island truly were very interested in what they were learning and behaved themselves very well – they didn’t lag behind, listened very respectfully, did not go off the narrow path, etc.
This yew tree looks like a bonsai. The zapovednik loves to tell a story that they once had Japanese tourists here who wanted to buy this tree because it reminded them of their homeland. They didn’t want to cut the tree down – they just wanted to buy the plot of land. Lazovsky Zapovednik had a hard time explaining to them that that’s not allowed in
If you look at this oak tree carefully, you will see that the knob growing on it looks like a Mongoloid face. As you walk past this tree the face is always looking at you. It’s as if someone is watching the behavior of
This is a view of