We decided to find out what berries can be picked on Taimyr. And asked the Taimyr Reserves Joint Directorate for help. So, we prepared the buckets and set off for the tundra.
Taimyr berries are divided into five families.
1. Berries of the HEATHER family are the most “massive” according to the observations of experienced tundra people. It includes several genera.
The vaccinium genus is represented by common lingonberry, small lingonberry (often considered a subspecies of common lingonberry), blueberry, common blueberry (by the way, in the Putorana forests this subspecies is dominant, common and abundant), small-leaved blueberry. The subgenus is small-fruited cranberry.
The bearberry genus includes the alpine bearberry, also known as the wolfberry with a black-purple powdery poisonous berry. It occurs in the south of Taimyr, in the southern tundra and forest-tundra, in the Putorana mountains. It reaches the Byrranga foot. The same genus includes the red-fruited bearberry with a red-raspberry, but, unfortunately, tasteless berry.
2. The ROSE-COLORED family includes several genera, for example, Rubus. It includes arctic raspberries (known as princess), Sakhalin raspberries and the queen of the Taimyr tundra – cloudberry.
Many people know how useful cloudberries are – they have four times more vitamin C than oranges. In Sweden and Finland, cloudberry liqueur is produced, which has found a special place in the hearts of foreign tourists.
Because of its softness, it is better to pick the berry in a slightly unripe state, experienced tundra people say. However, for example, in Norway, the government has banned picking unripe cloudberries. Another Norwegian law – the berry can be picked by anyone, even in state forests. But only local residents have the right to transport delicacies. The guests should eat the delicious berries in the forest.
Also in the Rubus genus there is the stone bramble – a very rare berry, found in the area of lake Kapchuk and the lower reaches of the Khantayka river; hop-like bramble, which can be collected in the area of Lama and Glubokoe lakes, as well as in the Dudinsky district of Taimyr. It is interesting that the stone bramble is not a pharmacopoeial plant, but it is widely used in dietetics and traditional medicine.
The stone bramble contains a large amount of vitamins and minerals, which allows it to be successfully used in case of vitamin deficiency and anemia. Folk healers use the leaves and stems of the stone bramble for the treatment of anemia, colds, inflammation of the joints and as a tonic and antipyretic agent. The main beneficial property of the bramble is the high content of vitamin C. However, like any drug, it also has contraindications. For example, allergies, varicose veins, thrombophlebitis and hypertension.
The spiny rose, which we know as the wild rose, belongs to the Rosaceae family; Siberian mountain ash, a subspecies of common mountain ash, as well as black cotoneaster are very rare. Occasionally, it is found in the area of lake Kapchuk, in the lower reaches of the Khantayka river.
In 2018, a cotoneaster was found in the vicinity of Talnakh, in the Krasnye Kamni gorge. The fruits of this species are edible, but due to their low taste, they are not used for food.
3. Gooseberries family – is primarily a sad (red) and smooth currant, and the latter is not often found, just in the west of Taimyr, along the valleys of the Yenisei and Pyasina rivers, mainly in the forest-tundra (in the Dudinka region).
Another berry of this family is black currant, found in the area of the Khantayskaya hydroelectric power station, the residents of Snezhnogorsk can enjoy it. Although there is information about artificially planted black currants in the area of the camp site Lama at the lake of the same name.
4. The SHIKSHA family is a shiksha (crowberry), which grows everywhere in the Putorana mountains. The use of this berry is interesting.
Shiksha is part of the traditional diet of indigenous peoples such as the Sami and Inuit. Some American Indian tribes harvested the berries for the winter and ate them with fat or butter. From the leaves and shoots, they prepared decoctions or infusions, which were used to treat diarrhea and other stomach diseases, they treated kidney diseases (berries have a diuretic effect) with the berries juice, and the roots decoction was used to heal eyes.
In Russian folk medicine, a decoction and vodka tincture of leaves and stems of the crowberry is used to treat metabolic disorders, as well as for headaches, fatigue, and as an antiscorbutic agent. The leaves decoction is considered a good way to strengthen hair. Berries are also eaten with milk and fermented milk products. Since the berries contain benzoic acid, they do not undergo fermentation processes and can be stored without additional processing in a hermetically sealed glass container.
5. The KIPARIS family is represented by the Siberian juniper. By the way, you can get three essential oils from juniper. According to this indicator, it can only be compared with bigardia – a bitter orange. Juniper can get oil from fruits, twigs with needles and wood.
In some European countries and in Russia, juniper berries have long been used for food, mainly as a spice to impart the characteristic aroma to kvass, beer, soft drinks, pickles, marinades, and canned fish. Juniper gives a special taste and forest aroma to poultry and game dishes (seven to eight berries are taken per kilogram of meat).
In Russia, in the 17th century, syrup and intoxicating drink was driven from juniper berries, juniper wort was prepared, which was served to the tsar and boyars on fasting days. In England, juniper berries are still used to prepare the traditional, purely British alcoholic drink – gin. Gin, however, did not receive recognition among Russians because of its strong perfumery aroma.
Thus, Taimyr berry plants are represented by five families, ten genera and 22 species.
Everyone choses to his own taste how to deal with the riches of the tundra. Many Norilsk residents make tea from the berries they pick, and also make jam for the winter. But old-timers advise to simply freeze the crop: during heat treatment, vitamins, which are so valuable for tundra delicacies, are destroyed. But the main thing, experts say, when going to get berries, do not harm nature, whose wealth we love so much.
Text: Maria Sokolova, Photo: open sources