“Orchids increase sexual drive in boars!” – Chapter C

The tricot orchid blooms in Mordovia! Maria Sosnina, 30, discovered a unique flower, listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Moldova, in her hometown of Krasnoslobodsky. She has been interested in studying flora since the age of 13 and knows a lot about the plants of her homeland. Sosnina talked about the benefits of “green friends” and botany, the failed experiments of breeders and survival in the forest Irina Vasnetsova.

Photo: Maria Sosnina

Maria was born in Saransk. And after a while, her family moved to the village of Krasnoslobodskaya in Kaimar. Today there are only 15 inhabitants! To this day, the villagers heat their houses with firewood, cook food in the oven and engage in agriculture. Sosnina’s mother was a writer, her father was a biologist. From her school years, Maria knew everything about almost every blade of grass and wildlife. I learned how to prepare a “natural first aid kit”, to grow fruits, vegetables, berries. In 2015 he graduated from the School of Biology and Biotechnology of Moscow State University Ogarev. She worked as a researcher at the Saransk Botanical Garden, named after VN Rzhavitin and the Mordovian Reserve. “Now I’m free bread,” says the interlocutor. “It simply came to our notice then. I do science for the soul. The mother, unfortunately, died last year from the coronavirus. “She, like her father, was very proud of me.” Maria loves to study orchids. To date there are 26 species in Mordovia – kokushnik, true slipper, good morning creeper, red pollen head, neottiantha, hiding place, watercolor with three notches, dremlik, digitiorhi … The growth of an amazing plant varies from 5 cm to 1 meter. Flower nectar is not edible. Therefore, orchids “invented” various ways to attract insects for pollination. Including imitation flowers of other plants. In a box of orchids, there are up to a million seeds. The grains themselves are weak. The growth rate is also low, as there is no supply of carbohydrates. The plant hatches due to its symbiosis with fungi. Humidity and shade are also important. Sometimes mycorrhiza is so strong that it can destroy “live” seeds. “My family and I have found 11 endangered species,” says Maria Sosnina. – Including the Baltic palm tree. This is a new species for the flora of Mordovia. Included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation. And the other day the triple incense blossomed! I found it by chance while walking in the forest of Kaimara. It is included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and is included in the Red Book of 47 regions of Russia. This plant is a small mycotrophic light green orchid with a strong aroma of black pepper. It is indistinguishable and very sensitive to changes in the hydrological regime. That is, due to deforestation, drainage of swamps, etc., it can disappear forever “. Maria believes that in order to preserve the ladyan in the Krasnoslobodsky area, it is necessary to create a protected area. “Have all plants been studied in a democracy?” Correspondent “C” is interested. “No,” the interlocutor replies. “Sometimes new species are discovered… For example, in 2003 they discovered the Chamzin’s cuff and immediately added it to the Mordovia Red Book. “Shortly afterwards, it was seen in other parts of Russia.” According to Sosnina, the Red Book plays an important role. First, it makes people think about their actions. Secondly, it is an official document on the basis of which laws on administrative responsibility for the destruction of rare species are issued. This is essential for the conservation of biodiversity. By the way, from the weeds, only the bone is brought there, which is widely called the carnation of the field. “Some officials are calling for the dandelions to be prevented from spreading. Is it really that dangerous? Correspondent “C” is interested. “Theoretically, dandelions can partially override other types of plants,” says the botanist. – They are cut. What is the point? These are perennial plants with a strong root system. They are not even afraid of drought. “What role does the orchid play in nature?” is the next question. “Boars, for example, feed on palm root,” explains Sosnina. – This type contains substances that stimulate sexual desire. As a result, the mating season for forest piglets is more productive. By the way, Maria had to deal with these animals during forest missions. According to her, wild boars are afraid of humans. They prefer to hide in thickets. The wolves have also become cowards. The vipers, if left untouched, only whistle and are removed immediately. “I’m not afraid of wild animals,” smiles Maria. – I calmly pick herbs in the most remote places. I store seeds of rare species. In winter, Sosnina processes the information collected and prepares documentation. To this day he is the co-author of many monographs and scientific articles. It is recognized that in fact the job of a botanist is far from feminine. In summer it is necessary to live in the field without amenities. There are many heavy bags of herbs in the backpack. “Basically, you have to be a fanatic to do that,” he laughs. Nevertheless, such scientists contribute greatly to the development of botany, medicine, and industry. Based on the information collected, pharmacists are developing drugs. Chemists apply the information obtained in the industrial sphere …

Photo: Maria Sosnina

But there are also extremely unsuccessful experiments. For example, in Soviet times, an attempt was made to cultivate Sosnovsky pork to feed cattle with it. But then they realized that the cows did not like the plant. And the resulting milk was bitter. Weed juice, when it comes in contact with human skin under ultraviolet light, causes burns that do not heal for a long time. Yes, and the bees “get wild” after that. In the end, the project was abandoned. But the cow parsnip left its usual growth zone in the Caucasus and, turning into a weed, spread throughout the country. Now it is difficult to get rid of it … Also, on an industrial scale, they tried to grow kok-saghyz dandelion, which is supposed to have rubber properties. But the rubber obtained with his help turned out to be of poor quality. Due to the development of the production of synthetic isoprene rubber, kok-saghyz plantations were no longer cultivated. “We also tried to cross the tomatoes with the potatoes to get the so-called tomato,” Sosnina continues. – Also unsuccessful.

Photo: Maria Sosnina

“What are the benefits of poisonous plants?” – asks the correspondent “S”. “Too big,” says Maria. For example, wolves feed on lilies of the valley to cleanse the stomachs of victims. Animals are not as stupid as we think. They know how to heal themselves … “” “How long can you live in the forest, eating only plants?” “With the presence of spring water, a week is certain,” says the scientist. – You can eat cattail roots. They contain a large amount of sugar. Buckthorn bark will help you get rid of constipation. You can also eat sour, sour, pine needles, russula, birch buds, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries. Good for the figure. Do not gain weight (laughs – “S”)! But in reality, without animal fats, the body is bad. Even the famous Siberian hermit Agafya Lykova could not stand it – she got a goat.

In conclusion, we talked about forest areas. Remains of forests have been preserved in some parts of the republic. When cut down, the existing ecosystem is severely damaged. The oak forests of the floodplains take more than a hundred years to fully recover.

Maria Sosnina is not only interested in orchids…

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