Bird Families

Caragana shrub


Photo: Love Dalén

Scientists have extracted DNA from a well-preserved ancient bird - the horned lark, found in the Siberian permafrost. The findings may help explain the evolution of the subspecies, as well as how the giant steppes evolved into tundra, forest, and steppe biomes at the end of the last ice age.

In 2018, a well-preserved frozen bird was found in the ground near Belaya Gora in northeastern Siberia. Researchers at the Center for Paleogenetics, a new research center at Stockholm University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History, have studied the bird and the results are now published in the scientific journal Communications Biology. Analyzes show that the bird is a 46,000-year-old female horned lark.

“We can not only identify the bird as a horned lark. Genetic analysis also suggests that the bird belonged to a population that was the joint ancestor of two subspecies of the horned lark living today, one in Siberia and one in the steppe in Mongolia. It helps us understand how the diversity of subspecies evolves, ”says Nicholas Dussex, professor in the Department of Zoology at Stockholm University.

The result matters on another level as well. During the last ice age, a gigantic steppe spread over Northern Europe and Asia. The steppe was inhabited by now extinct animal species such as the woolly mammoth and woolly rhinoceros.

According to one theory, this ecosystem was a mosaic of habitats such as steppe, tundra and coniferous forest. At the end of the last ice age, the giant steppe was divided into the biomes we know today - tundra in the north, taiga in the middle and steppe in the south.

“Our results support this theory, as the diversification of the horned lark into these subspecies appears to have occurred concurrently with the disappearance of the giant steppe,” says Love Dalen, professor at the Swedish Museum of Natural History and head of research at the Center for Paleogenetics.

In the longer term, the ambition of the researchers is to map the entire genome of the ancient lark and compare it with the genomes of all subspecies of modern horned larks.

“The new laboratory equipment and smart environment at the Center for Paleogenetics will definitely help with these analyzes,” says Love Dalen.

Researchers at the Center for Paleogenetics have access to a large number of samples from similar finds from the same location in Siberia, including an 18,000-year-old puppy named Dogor, who researchers are studying to determine if he is a wolf or a dog. Other finds include a 50,000-year-old cave lion cub "Spartak" and a partially preserved woolly mammoth.

Nicolas Dussex et al, Biomolecular analyzes reveal the age, sex and species identity of a near-intact Pleistocene bird carcass, Communications Biology (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s42003-020-0806-7

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General description with photo

The homeland of Karagana is the eastern regions - Mongolia, Siberia, Kazakhstan. It was the inhabitants of the latter country that gave the name to this plant, which in translation from Kazakh means "black ear", it was later adopted as the official botanical. The mention of black ears does not refer to the bush itself, but to black foxes, which often take a fancy to the thickets of caragana in order to hide in them - only the ears can sometimes be seen. The natural dimensions of the caragana are quite impressive; in favorable conditions, it can reach up to 7 m in height. In regions of middle latitudes, in some species, specimens of this height can also be found, however, most species rarely grow more than 3 m.

The plant is a multi-stemmed bush. The trunks of a gray-green color over time thicken so much that Karagana is classified as a tree-like culture.

The leaves are paired, similar to acacia, 4-8 pairs are collected on each leaf branch. Flowering is typical for the legume family, to which this culture belongs, moth-shaped flowers are collected in bunches of up to 5 pieces each, have a basic yellow color, but there are also other colors.

The leguminous fruit is filled with small pea-seeds. They ripen by mid-summer. They dry right on the tree, after which the flaps burst with a crash, twisting into a spiral. The force of the pods cracking is such that the peas do not just fall down, but fly off a considerable distance.

Varieties of caragana

In total, there are about seven dozen plant species in nature, of which about ten are suitable for cultivation in the climate of middle latitudes of Russia. Let's consider some of them in more detail.

Maned Caragana

One of the tallest species, rarely less than 1 m in height in adulthood. Stem shoots are thick, leaves grow directly from them, have white pubescence. A year later, spiny needle-shaped petioles remain of them. The flowers are white or pink, no longer than 4 cm.

Ussuri Karagan

In the Ussuri variety, the bush, on the contrary, has a very compact size and rarely raises its branches above 1 m. The shoots are straight, ribbed, and the leaves are dense. The bloom is colorful, at first the buds are yellow, and by the end of the budding period the flowers become almost red. It is found in the wild in the Russian Primorye.

Dwarf caragana

Another low bush, not exceeding a meter in height. It has a characteristic golden bark of a smooth, shiny structure. The shoots are thin, the leaf plates are lighter in color compared to other varieties. Flowering is long and early, it can last 4 months, i.e. almost until the end of summer.

Caragana prickly

Medium bush up to one and a half meters high. Shoots are straight, short, leafy plates are small, the central core of leafy twigs has thorns.

Tree caragana

This is exactly the variety that grows in abundance in the middle latitudes and which is popularly called the yellow acacia. It is a very tall bushes that turn into real trees up to 7 meters in height. The leaves have a juicy green color, the flowers are painted in a yellow tone, the inflorescences are neat, bundle-shaped.

Caragana Pendula (weeping)

This is not a variety, but a separate variety, very interesting in that its shoots are arched and effectively droop down, like a weeping willow.

Consider the principle of growing this plant on the site using the example of shrub caragana.

Caragana came to Europe from Russia, or rather, from the botanical garden in St. Petersburg, from where the first seedlings were exported to the West.

Planting caragana and caring for it

Based on the fact that the plant grows well and without any care in similar wild conditions, it becomes clear that caring for it is simple and easy. The main task is to choose the right location. In terms of light, the shrub is not picky and can well put up with partial shading. But on a sunny location, it will grow better and bloom more luxuriantly. With regard to the moisture content of the soil, the shrub is more demanding. In nature, it simply will not grow where the soil is excessively moist or waterlogged. Therefore, by planting caragana seedlings in such a place on the site, you can waste energy.

Ground requirements

As for the nutritional value of the soil, in this regard, the culture does not impose any requirements, as well as to its acidity. However, it is highly desirable that the soil is sandy loam.

How to plant a caragana?

Planting rules are very simple. When planting a seedling, the hole must correspond to an earthen coma, but be at least half a meter in all dimensions. Crushed stone or broken brick is poured at the bottom to arrange drainage in order to exclude stagnant water. Drainage should be sprinkled on top with a layer of soil. If the seedling has an open root system, you need to try to fill the voids between the roots with earth, but without undue pressure. The height of the root collar must be maintained taking into account soil shrinkage. After planting, the seedlings must be watered, and then carefully, but carefully, compact the soil of the trunk circle.

So that the young caragana bush is not overpowered by weeds, it is better to mulch the trunk circle right away. Hay or needles are well suited for this purpose.

In no case is it recommended to simply stick the seedling into the ground, even if it does not have a highly developed root system. This can destroy him hopelessly.


If summer doji go on as usual, then adult bushes do not need watering. It is necessary to monitor soil moisture only for young plants that have not yet grown a strong root system. It is better to underfill the "yellow acacia" than to pour it over. If the soil is not mulched, it is necessary to periodically weed. In rainy summers, it is best not to use mulch.

Top dressing

It is recommended to fertilize the caragana only at a young age, when it is just growing. Top dressing is applied in spring and summer no more than 2 times a month. Organics are very good for this purpose, for example, chicken manure or diluted mullein in a ratio of 1:50.

When applying liquid organic matter, care should be taken that it does not have contact with the aerial part of the plant.

Crown molding

Pruning is an important point of care, because it is thanks to it that you can get a decoratively attractive bush. You can start molding from the second year of the seedling's life. The plant tolerates pruning well, which allows it to be used in the design of hedges or landscape compositions of textured design. When forming, you should first cut crooked and unhealthy (frozen or dried out) branches. Rejuvenating and preventive pruning involves shortening the branches by 1/3 of the length.


The plant is frost-resistant and does not need shelter in adulthood. However, young specimens often die during extremely cold winters with little snow. Therefore, in regions with a risky climate, it is better to wrap them in burlap for the winter and carefully bandage them.

Reproduction of caragana

The seed method, dividing the bush, planting root shoots, planting with green cuttings are available as breeding methods. For ornamental varieties, the grafting method is used, but more often the seedlings of the grafted varieties are bought in the nursery.

Divide the bushes and plant root shoots in early spring before the start of sap flow. The method of green cuttings is used relatively rarely, for this you need to wait until June.

Sowing seeds is carried out immediately after they are harvested (it is important to have time to collect them before the pods crack, but after waiting for almost complete ripening). You can also plant seeds in the spring, but in this case they require soaking for 1 day.

Young plants grown from seeds grow extremely slowly for the first two years, this is normal and should not be worried about. From the third year of life, they will quickly grow, and already at the age of 5 years they can reach 2 m in height. Almost immediately after this, the bush begins to bloom.

Diseases and pests

Most often, caraganes are annoyed by putrefactive fungal diseases caused by too humid conditions of detention. Excessive thickening of the planting also contributes to this. To fight such ailments as powdery mildew, plant rust or white and gray rot will, unfortunately, have to be done with a radical surgical method, removing the diseased parts of the plant. Everything that has been cut off is subject to burning. You can also get rid of rust with the help of Bordeaux liquid.

Of the attacking insects, one can distinguish aphids of the acacia variety, false scale insects, leaf beetles, and also glassworms. All these parasites are easily dealt with by conventional insecticides.

Food and medicinal properties of caragana

The fruits of this shrub are edible and not devoid of benefits, although they seem to be not accepted. Studying the properties of the fruits of this plant, biologists came to the conclusion that its peas are not inferior in protein content and the presence of fats and carbohydrates to the generally recognized peas. There was a period when they even tried to introduce them into the food culture and called the caragana "pea tree", and its fruits "Siberian peas", but because of their smallness and unpresentability, these attempts were abandoned.

Still, unripe pods can be put in vegetable dishes or soups, i.e. apply in the same way as regular green beans. Hulled seeds can be used in a similar way to fresh green peas.

In Europe, they went further, and even conservative Englishmen learned to use flowers and unblown buds of a plant in their diet. Moreover, the product is considered an exquisite ingredient. They are cooked (boiled) and put in salads and ceremonial side dishes. It is worth noting that in the boiled state, their appearance is not only not lost, but becomes even more elegant than initially.

It is interesting what the doctors say about this. Official medicine does not use this plant as a pharmacopoeial one, but nutritionists are unanimous in their opinion that “yellow acacia” flowers have a beneficial effect on the walls of blood vessels. Traditional healers use them for headaches, for the treatment of a diseased liver, as well as for heartburn and sclerosis of the brain.

Blank for future use

Peas, buds, flowers and caragana pods can be harvested for future use. To this end, they are put in clean glass jars and sterilized, as well as pickled and fermented.


In accordance with the botanical description, the plant is a small shrub with a height of 0.6-0.8 m and a width of 0.8 to 1.2 m. It has a spreading crown. Perennial leaves are evergreen, have a lanceolate shape. Flowering occurs from July to September.

The shrub has large flowers, golden yellow, multi-stalk. A large number of flowers are formed on a perennial.

Grows moderately fast. St. John's wort Kalmianum is undemanding to the quality of the soil, but it gives preference to soil that has good moisture. It can be used in decorative gardening both as a single planting and in group plantings.

Landing Kalman Gemo

Before planting a plant on a site, you should decide on a place. The plant is unpretentious, but the brightness of the flowers and the splendor of the bush is achieved under certain growing conditions.

St. John's wort Kalman prefers to grow in a place well lit by sunlight. If necessary, the plant can also be planted in partial shade. When choosing a landing site, you need to ensure that it is protected from winds and drafts.

A good soil option for planting St. John's wort shrubs is sandy soil. The semi-shrub grows well on loose neutral or slightly acidic soils. With a high groundwater table, it is recommended to provide a good drainage layer before planting St. John's wort Kalmianum Dzhemo.

The plant is able to reproduce in several ways:

  • seeds,
  • cuttings.

Seed propagation of St. John's wort is inconvenient. This is due to the fact that they are small, and it is required to sow them at some distance from each other.

The seed propagation method can be used both in early spring and late autumn before the onset of frost.

Seed material is planted in prepared soil, in which the plant will grow and mature for several years. After this period, matured plants are transplanted into the ground at the place of constant growth.

Seeds germinate in the soil if its temperature warms up to + 5 ° C.

With the help of seeds, shrubs can be propagated by growing seedlings. For this, the seed is planted in containers with prepared soil. When sowing in a container, the seeds are placed on the soil surface and lightly sprinkled with sand, after which they are watered with water.

The container is covered with glass or plastic wrap and placed in a dark place. After the emergence of seedlings, they are taken out after 2 months. Young shoots need to be thinned out and provided with moderate watering. Seedlings are planted in open ground in late spring.

The simplest and most popular way to plant a shrub is to use cuttings for this purpose.

Cuttings for planting a plant can be prepared independently or purchased at a specialized store.

Before planting, the stalk must be placed in a container of clean water for 14 days. During this period, roots are formed on the handle.

After the appearance of roots for planting a young plant, it is required to prepare containers filled with a mixture of sand and peat in a 1: 1 ratio.

Cuttings should overwinter in pots. During this period, it will be necessary to regularly water the seedlings, preventing the land from drying out, but you should not overmoisten it.

After the onset of spring, the grown cuttings of St. John's wort Kalmianum Dzhemo need to be transplanted into open ground to a permanent place of growth. For this purpose, a small pit is made, at the bottom of which layers of drainage and humus are placed.

The young bush should be transplanted together with an earthen clod from the pot so that the root system is not damaged. After moving the plant to the center of the prepared hole, it is covered with soil.

The bush should not be deeply buried in the ground, it is enough that the roots are covered with a layer of soil. The soil around the St. John's wort is compacted and after planting is watered abundantly.

If you follow all the planting rules and properly care for the bush, then its flowering begins as early as 1 year after planting, provided there are favorable growing conditions.

Caring for Kalman Gemo

To obtain an overgrown flowering bush, it is required to carry out not only proper planting, but also caring for the plant in compliance with certain requirements.

The shrub is unpretentious, but requires compliance with some care rules:

  1. Watering St. John's wort should be moderate. Overdrying the soil is not recommended, as well as strong waterlogging of the soil should not be allowed. The bush is watered as the soil around the plant dries up. In the event that the weather conditions are hot with a minimum amount of precipitation, then periodic spraying of the aerial part of the plant is recommended. Compliance with this requirement is important in relation to young and weakened St. John's wort bushes.
  2. Periodically, St. John's wort, like any other plant, requires weeding. The procedure will not only create a well-groomed appearance at the planting site, but also provide oxygen to the soil to improve the development of the root system. The weed grass around the ornamental planting can be a carrier of diseases and pests. Regular removal of weeds will prevent the spread of diseases and the death of ornamental plantings.
  3. It is necessary to regularly inspect the aboveground part of the bush. Such a procedure is required for the timely detection of signs of diseases and traces of pests on the bushes in an ornamental bush. During the growth process, dry leaves may appear on the shoots, which are recommended to be removed in a timely manner. Such a measure not only prevents the appearance of diseases, but also improves the external decorative properties of the shrub.
  4. It is imperative to carry out periodic feeding of plants, this allows you to extend the flowering period and increase the number of flowers on 1 bush. Fertilization promotes more rapid growth of the bush. It is recommended to regularly feed the plant with nitrophos.

Fulfillment of these requirements ensures the normal growth and development of an ornamental shrub for a long time.

Pruning St. John's Wort Gemo

St. John's wort requires 2 pruning per growing season. In the spring, pruning of shoots is carried out, which froze during the wintering period and require removal. The shrub has a good ability to recover after winter.

In autumn, pruning of old and damaged shoots is carried out to prepare the bush for wintering. If the plants are planted for the purpose of forming a hedge, then pruning can be additionally carried out as needed during the entire growing season.