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Ботанические сады СССР / Botanical gardens of the USSR

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"Every living thing on our planet owes its existence to plants. Plants feed and dress us, and give us warmth. They cleanse the atmosphere of dust and harmful gases. Till now, no one and nothing, despite great achievements of natural sciences and technology, can accomplish the gigantic work plants do in the process of photosynthesis. Every year the plants of the Earth produce 232.5 milliard tons of dry organic matter. To synthesize these products from the atmosphere, 97 milliard tons of carbonic acid is consumed and free oxygen is excreted into the atmosphere. Owing to this process, the proportion of oxygen in the Earth atmosphere is 21%. This makes the existence of man and animals possible.

Therefore, the Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the USSR reads: "In the interests of the present and future generations, the necessary steps are taken in the USSR to protect and make scientific, rational use of the land and its mineral and water resources, and the plant and animal kingdoms, to preserve the purity of air and water, ensure reproduction of natural wealth, and improve the human environment". And plants play the leading role in the biospheric complex of the Earth.

In milliards of years of evolution more than 500 thousand plant species appeared. More than a half of them are floral plants. Each species is well adapted to a certain environment. Some live 6000 years and reach the height of 110 meters (Sequoia sempervirens). Others, the so-called ephemers, exist only from two to six weeks. In this short period, they undergo the full cycle of development - from a seed to a seed (Poa annua, Stellaria media).

To use plants in a proper way, to reproduce them, it is necessary to understand their diversity, to know economic qualities of plants, to help them propagate, and to grow plants. Among a great number of various scientific institutions which study the nature of plants and solve practical problems, an important role is played by botanical gardens. It is precisely botanical gardens who study plants in natural conditions, and grow them under stationary conditions. Only in this way it is possible to follow all the stages of development of each species, from the germination of a seed to the agelimit.

The results of the scientific work are not only different publications and herbarium specimens but living plants gathered in collections.

The history of botanical gardens originates from time immemorial. The first collections of plants gathered by keen naturalists, were the predecessors of botanical gardens. We suppose that the number of such collectors was not small. But the collecting they made lacked strict method. The first botanical gardens, the contribution to science of which is beyond any doubt, were those of the universities of Leipzig (1542), Pisa (1543), Padua (1576), Leiden (1587) and some others.

Private botanical gardens in Russia appeared as early as in the 17th century. Two gardens laid out by decree of Peter the Great, still exist. The first one was founded in Moscow in 1706; medicinal herbs were grown and tested there. At present this garden is a branch of the botanical garden of the Moscow State University. The second one was laid out in St.Petersburg in 1714 and was called the "pharmaceutical garden". Later, on the basis of this garden, the V. L. Komarov Botanical Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences was formed.

From the early 18th century to the Great October Socialist Revolution, only 20 botanical gardens were set up in Russia. The collections of living plants introduced from various countries of the world were laid out; scientists studied the biology of these plants and their economic value, as well as growth and development under new environment. Selecting the most useful and hardy plants, botanists initiated the introduction of such new plants as tea, mandarins and oranges, bamboo, peach, many medicinal and spicy plants, ornamental trees, shrubs, perennials.

After the Great October Socialist Revolution, the rapid growth of production, effective exploitation of natural resources, the higher standard of living put forward tasks to raise the theoretical value of their studies to hasten solutions on rational use, reproduction, protection and enrichment of vegetative resources. We have now in our country 120 botanical gardens subordinated to different departments.

To coordinate the scientific work of all the botanical gardens, the Council of the USSR Botanical Gardens was formed on the base of the Main Botanical Garden, USSR Academy of Sciences. This Council has become the ..."


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