A journey to Flora’s kingdom

Plants are an invaluable gift of nature. Their importance is difficult to overestimate. Since ancient times, the history of mankind has been connected with them: plants feed, warm, and heal. Our duty is to study, protect and increase the natural wealth of our region. With the aim of studying the flora of the Uzhhorod district, in particular, forest-forming species and medicinal plants of the forest, the teachers of the eco-center organized an excursion to the forest, which is located on the territory of the Kamianitskyj Forestry of the State Enterprise “Uzhhorod Forestry”.

At the beginning of the excursion, young people got acquainted with the forestry information board, which depicts the main forest-forming species, bushes, and grasses, as well as birds and forest fauna. Yulianna Kurak, head of the “Young Foresters” group, said that the main forest-forming species here are beech (56%) and oak (33%), with much less ash and hornbeam. During the trip to the Nevytskyj Castle, the children went along the educational trail “To the Nevytskyj Castle”, learning about the plant and animal diversity, the age structure and species composition of the forests of the forest farm, the history of the Nevytskyj Castle and the outstanding Hungarian forest scientist Karl Wagner (1830-1879), who in the 19th century was engaged in arranging the territory of Nevytskyj Castle. Avenue plantings of larch, Douglas fir, linden, fir, and yews trees are associated with the name of K. Wagner, which has survived to this day.

Studying the flora of Zamkova Gora, the tour participants also paid particular attention to the medicinal plants they encountered on the way. The youth received the task from Maryna Pavko, head of the “Medicinal Plants” group, to collect the leaves, flowers, or fruits of medicinal plants they came across on a palette, and to tell what diseases they help with. From the beginning of its existence, a human sought protection from nature and tried to strengthen their health in order to survive in difficult, unfavorable conditions. They were forced to provide themselves with medical care for various injuries and diseases, and, quite naturally, they looked for treatment in the surrounding nature and, first of all, in the world of plants. This is how people learned about the healing properties of plants and their effect on the body.

In the process of development, man accumulated knowledge about the action and properties of various plants through his or her own experience and observations of their effect on the body. The participants said their families use healing plants for treatment: wild chamomile, guelder-rose, St. John’s wort, yarrow, coltsfoot, rosehip, broadleaf plantain, mint, hawthorn, whitebeam, lily-of-the-valley, and many others. At the end of the trip, the children went down to the Uzh River to get acquainted with the dam that blocks the river and redirects the water to the diversion canal, from where it enters the water supply system of the right bank of the city of Uzhhorod. Unfortunately, traditionally, the bank of the recreation area was covered with Sosnowsky’s hogweed (Heracleum sosnowskyi), a poisonous perennial plant that was brought to Ukraine from the Caucasus.

However, as it turned out, hogweed has a negative effect on biodiversity. This plant, thanks to its powerful groundmass, displaces local species of not only grasses but also woody species from the territory and does not allow them to develop. Seeds retain their germination for up to 12 years! As Nana, a member of the “Young Valeologists” group, reported, the main harmful properties of Sosnowsky’s hogweeds are that they can cause burns on human skin. Touching the plant or getting its juice on the skin does not cause any unpleasant sensations, for example, in contact with nettles. After a few hours or even days, itching and redness of the affected areas of the skin will begin, and then blisters will appear, and on sunny days, burns of the 1st – 3rd degree may appear on the skin.

This day of practice, like the previous ones, turned out to be very informative, appealing, and useful. The children were once again convinced that the flora of our native land is rich and charming. So we should be grateful to plants for the fact that they give us health and strength, and beautify our lives. So let’s always protect the green world, without which man cannot exist!

The event was held as part of the cooperation of the Transcarpathian Regional Ecological and Naturalistic Center of Students Youth (TRENCSY) the Interreligious and environmental civil forum of Eastern Europe (IRCEF) (head by Alexander Bokotey) with the German Nature Conservation Union (NABU Bundesverband NABU International ), project coordinators  Ivan Tymofeiev (NABU)Nataliya Kulya (IRCEF).

Oksana Kremin, Head of the organizational and mass work Department in TRENCSY

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