Highlanders – and how to deal with them in the new reality – Nauka – Kommersant

Mountaineers are not only people living in the mountains, but also the name of a large number of plant species. They grow by no means only in the mountains – everywhere: in valleys, next to rivers and streams, in wetlands. And often, for example, now, in cottages, where they become a problem: hardy and fast-growing, they intervene in more cultivated plants. How to deal with them and is it worth it?

Gardeners and herbalists are paying close attention to the most notable and annoying giant mountaineers – the Sakhalin, also called “Sakhalin bamboo” in Japanese, differently – Japanese lilac and Weirich buckwheat. The first reaches a height of three meters, and the second and third – four meters. All of them are large herbaceous plants that grow rapidly.

I admire

All three giant species are very decorative during the growing and flowering period, which contributes significantly to their distribution in holiday homes, villages and cities of Russia, mainly in its European part. They feel better in fertile soils, grow in whole forests, but do not despise even poor soils, grow quite normally even in the absence of moisture. They are often planted near landfills and compost piles to create a natural visual barrier and prevent ugliness. For the same purpose, they are planted in barren lands, in front gardens of high-rise buildings and similar places: the unpretentious, rapid growth and the impression of freshness and strength created by the highlanders have a pleasant effect on the inhabitants. Such green walls are especially good during flowering – but they also play an ecological role: they protect against dust and noise. For this role, it is important for the mountaineers to get up early in the spring and then stand until the frost.

Beauty is not without cost, I must say. The mountain ones spread quickly and the strength of their young shoots is such that they easily penetrate the asphalt. The root system, which provides all this green turmoil, goes several meters deep. Many nodes of renewal are formed in it – to fight the highlanders, if such a need suddenly arises, is at least a very difficult matter.

I eat

Apart from the ecological and decorative function, the mountain ones also have nutritional importance.

First of all, the mountain shoots go to salads and snacks. In the spring they can be cut, peeled and consumed: they are juicy, pleasantly acidic in taste.

Highlander roots can also be cooked – they need to be washed, peeled and fried, like many other roots, and it will not be too thin, but an edible starchy dish. Highlander roots are regularly eaten in those parts of the world where they originally came from in nature.

Highlanders also have nutritional value because they are extremely honey plants. In fact, one of the reasons for the wide distribution of highlanders is the activity of beekeepers and ultimately the love of the Russians for different varieties of honey. It is true that in the northern regions of Russia, this useful function of the mountains is reduced: they bloom there in autumn and flowering can occur in the frost.

Highlanders are valuable for their biologically active substances: they contain protein, polyphenol rutin (vitamin P) and resveratrol (phytoalexin), carotene, organic acids (oxalic, ascorbic, tannic, French, etc.), metals phosphorus). ), tannins, ie tannins, tannins – plant high molecular weight phenolic compounds that can precipitate proteins and have an astringent taste. the latter allows the use of highlanders in leather production.


Giant climbers are now fully among the invaders – as common as the famous harmful pork. They are called invasive because they have exceeded the limits of their natural range and in new settlements are a threat to the biological diversity of flora. It is good at least that, unlike cow parsnips, there is nothing poisonous in the highlands, so they can not harm a person, his health in any way.

But how did the mountaineers overcome their range? Why did they become “harmful” to the European part of Russia?

The case opens easily. In the late 1940s, the USSR-led communists adopted a policy of providing animal feed – both large and small. At that time, the interest of scientists turned to various species of plants, rapidly growing and with large aboveground masses. First of all – Sosnovsky weed, we wrote about it last year, it was already followed by mountain, goat rue, Jerusalem artichoke, sylphia and other species. For some areas of our country, these species proved to be really valuable livestock crops, for which they began to have significant areas. With these, reproduction works were carried out, the direction of reproduction was to increase productivity, the content of plant units in plant biomass.

Cattle silage was harvested, feed additives were prepared to increase productivity, to increase the fat content of milk. The first varieties were obtained. which are probably not saved anywhere.

But climbers do not reproduce quickly with seeds, and it takes some time for plants to grow and reach productive age. As a result, they have not yet become the culture that quickly conquered the country’s fields – unlike Sosnovsky’s pork, goat rue (galega) and even Jerusalem artichoke (earth pear).

Different farms of different samples and types of mountain were cultivated in many farms. The species is perennial, difficult to disappear, therefore, late, but they have gained their place in many parts of our country.

In the 21st century, the mountain people began to be included in the “black books”. Giant plants began to emerge from the fields where they were grown. This process can not be stopped: the imported climbers have passed to a new quality – invasive species. They have declared war, they must be destroyed.

Highlander control measures – regular haircut starting from the flowering period. Plants should not be allowed to form seeds. Mechanical digging of roots and rhizomes throughout the season when new shoots appear. Herbicides can also help, but remember: using them, you are damaging the whole world around you, as herbicides are extremely toxic compounds that poison the earth for a long time.


Not everywhere you need to be in this war. Mountain people, for example, do not produce seeds in the conditions of northwestern Russia – to be more precise, they produce irregularly, the climate is not suitable for them. That is, they spread only on shoots, due to the development of roots, and therefore do not pose a particular danger as an invasive species. Well, or someone makes them on purpose – but that’s a whole other matter.

The problem of controlling certain types of plants can be solved simply – it is necessary to find new areas of their use and application for human needs.

Of course, for our country, since we have both natural gas, and oil, and timber, it should not seem that there are difficulties with energy. But in many parts of the world, the issue of energy installations is acute enough, and then plants containing sugar are grown to obtain raw materials, which are processed into bioethanol – a variation of the technical alcohol.

Another way: the plants are cut at the end of the growing season for use as fuel – again for electricity generation. And in some countries (for example, in China, in Germany) climbers have already begun to cultivate as a possible source for the production of fuel pellets. The stems of these plants contain lignin (from the Latin lignum – tree, wood) – a substance that characterizes the rigid walls of plant cells. is a complex polymeric compound found in the cells of vascular plants. Lignified cell membranes have a superstructure comparable to the structure of reinforced concrete: cellulose microfibers correspond to their reinforcement properties and lignin, which has a high compressive strength, is used as a raw material for the production of cellulose (a product for the manufacture of technical paper and board). For countries where forests are protected, this is very important. Herbaceous perennials are revived every year, so they are an easily renewable raw material.

In addition to being used as an energy source, giant climbers are of significant interest to medicine (pharmaceuticals) and the food industry.

Work is currently underway on technologies for bioethanol production based on green mountain biomass. No less attractive is the production of microbial protein based on the nutrient medium of the green mass of climbers. Undoubtedly, by growing these plants in large areas, it is possible to obtain a large biomass and, depending on the purpose of production, process it to obtain the final product: paper, biofuels, animal feed. tannins, natural polyphenols (routine, resveratrol), antioxidants.


Well-known and valuable livestock crops in our country are sunflower, potatoes, turnips, beets, corn, herbal mixtures. But all this, along with the positive qualities, has one feature – they are grown as annual crops. And this requires a significant annual financial cost for sowing and cultivation, which affects the final price of the products. Not all of the indicated species of giant mountain are rich in protein, they do not meet all the requirements for combined silos, which are a mixture of many succulent crops in terms of nutritional value and complement each other in terms of nutritional value.

And yet, even in our time, the productivity and nutritional value of these plants are being studied. It turns out that the dry matter of the green mass of the climber Sakhalin has a high content of proteins, vitamins and substances of high biological activity (alkaloids, phytoestrogens, hormones, biogenic stimulants) and can be used for therapeutic and prophylactic feeding of animals.

Kirill Tkachenko, PhD in Biological Sciences, Senior Researcher at the Botanical Institute. VL Komarova RAS, Head of Useful Plants Import Team and Seed Science Team

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