Vodyanik, or Shiksha
Vodyanika (Empetrum) - a genus of evergreen undersized creeping shrubs of the Heather family with leaves similar to needles and nondescript flowers; widespread in the Northern Hemisphere, also found in South America. It is used in cooking, traditional medicine and as an ornamental plant.
Previously, three genera - Vodianika, Korema (Corema) and Ceratiola (Ceratiola) - stood out in a separate family Vodyanikovye (Empetraceae), but according to the results of genetic studies conducted by APG, this taxon was reduced in rank to the tribe Vodianikovye (Empetreae) in the subfamily Eric (Ericoideae) of the Heather family.
The Latin name of the genus comes from the Greek words en "na" and petros "stone" - and is associated with the habitat of the plant.
The Russian folk names of the plant are bagnovka, funnel (according to the color of the berry), bear berry, booze, ssyha (due to the diuretic effect of the berries), mossberry (most likely due to the small amount of pulp and a large amount of fresh juice), black grass, shiksha , six.
Names in other languages: English. Crowberry, dumb. Krahenbeeren, fin. Variksenmarja, fr. Camarine Literal translation from English, German and Finnish is a raven berry.
Vodyanika is distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere - from the temperate zone to the subarctic zone (Russia, continental Western Europe from Finland to Spain, Great Britain, Iceland, Greenland, USA, Canada, Japan, Korea, northern China, Mongolia).
Codderberry is also found in the Southern Hemisphere - in the Chilean Andes, on Tierra del Fuego, on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), as well as on the islands of Tristan da Cunha. In Russia, the plant is widely distributed in the northern regions, in Siberia, in the Far East, including Sakhalin, Kamchatka, and the Kuril Islands; also found in the non-chernozem zone. Homeland watermen - Northern Hemisphere. Its current bipolar distribution is due to the penetration of the plant to the south during the Ice Age.
Typical plant habitats are sphagnum bogs, moss-lichen and rocky tundra, coniferous (usually pine) forests, where it often forms a continuous cover. Vodyanika is also found on open sands (scythes, dunes), on granite outcrops; grows in the mountains in the subalpine and alpine zones.
Vodyanik - creeping shrubbery, whose height rarely exceeds 20 cm, and the length of the shoots can reach 100 cm.
It grows in spots - curtains, each of which represents a single individual. The stem is dark brown in color, densely covered with leaves, covered with brownish hairs at a young age; strongly branches, while the branches form subordinate roots. Curtina gradually occupies more and more space, while in its center the branches gradually die off. Occasionally there are extensive thickets of water crowberry - the so-called funnel vortexes, or shikshevniki.
Like some other representatives of the heather family, crowberry cannot do without symbiosis with mushrooms: it receives some mineral substances from them, supplying them with photosynthesis products in return.
Twigs, up to 1 m long, are mostly hidden in a mossy pillow, covered with dotted glands of white or amber color.
The leaves are alternate, small, with very short petioles, narrowly elliptic, 3-10 mm long. The edges of the leaf are bent down and almost closed, because of this the leaves look like needles, and the plant itself is like a dwarf Christmas tree. Each leaf is held on a branch for up to five years.
Plants are monoecious or dioecious. The flowers are axillary, inconspicuous; with a double actinomorphic perianth, with three pink, red or purple petals and three sepals; single or in a group of two or three pieces. Three stamens in stamen flowers. The stigma is radiant, the ovary is superior; it has from 6 to 12 nests. In the conditions of the European part of Russia, the crowberry blooms in April-May, in Siberia in May-June. Pollination - with the help of insects: crowberry flowers are visited by butterflies, flies and bees.
The fruit is black (with a gray raid) or red berry with a diameter of up to 5 mm with a hard skin and hard seeds, outwardly similar to a blueberry. Ripens in August. The juice has a purple color. Berries remain on the shoots until spring.
Vodyanik contains triterpene saponins, flavopoids (quercetin, kempferol, rutin), tannins (up to 4.5%), essential oils, resins, coumarins, benzoic and acetic acids, anthocyanins, vitamin C, carotene, various trace elements, including manganese , sugars, essential oils.
The soft part of the berries is edible, quench thirst well, but the low content of sugars and acids makes them taste quite fresh.
Vodyanika is included in the traditional diet of some indigenous peoples - for example, Sami and Inuit. Some Native American tribes harvested berries for the winter and ate them with fat or oil; in addition, they prepared decoctions or infusions from leaves and shoots, which were used to treat diarrhea and other stomach diseases, treated kidney diseases with berries juice (berries have a diuretic effect), and eye diseases were treated with a decoction from the roots.
In Russian folk medicine, a decoction and vodka tincture of leaves and stems of vodnik is used to treat epilepsy, paralysis, metabolic disorders, as well as headaches, overwork and as an anti-zingotic agent. A decoction of leaves is considered a good tool to strengthen hair.
In Tibetan medicine, crowberry is used for headaches, for the treatment of diseases of the liver and kidneys.
For therapeutic purposes, young leafy shoots (grass) are used, which are plucked during flowering of the plant. They are cleaned of impurities and dried in the shade or in a well-ventilated area, laying out in a thin layer.
Berries are also eaten with milk and with fermented milk products. They make jam, jam, marmalade, stuffing for pies; make wine. Use as a seasoning for fish and meat. In the Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language by V.I. Dahl, Cyril is mentioned - Siberian food made from water jets with fish and blubber (seal fat). For the future, the crowberry is harvested in ice cream or soaked. Since the berries contain benzoic acid, they are not subjected to fermentation processes and can be stored without additional processing in a hermetically sealed glass container.
Since berries of water crowberry contain anthocyanin pigment in high concentration, they were used as a natural dye. In particular, cherry dye was made from crowberry for dyeing wool.
Vodyanika is used to decorate alpine hills and compositions with stones, as well as an effective groundcover (since creeping shoots form a dense shade, almost all weeds are suppressed by it), but you can rarely find it in culture.
Plants are planted at a distance of 30 - 50 cm from each other. Planting depth 40 cm. The root neck is buried in the soil by 2 cm. A soil mixture is prepared from turf soil, peat, sand in equal volumes. Drain from crushed stone and sand with a layer of 10 cm.
Plants are fed once a season, applying per 1 m2 50 g nitroammophoski. Mulch young plantings with peat, a layer of 5-6 cm. It is quite winter-hardy, and additional shelter is not required, as it hibernates under the snow. Pruning is careful, insignificant, consisting mainly in the removal of dry shoots.
The plant requires weeding only in the first years of life. Then it suppresses almost all weeds on its own. Only a few weeds make their way out from under the dense shade formed by the creeping shoots of the crowberry into the light, but they are not difficult to pick. You will even have to limit the spread of shiksha, which can displace neighboring crop plants.
In dry weather, shiksha necessarily requires watering. But she does not need to swamp. Shrubs from the order of heather grow on peat bogs not because they require an abundance of moisture - they simply do not withstand competition in other habitats.
Propagated by seeds and layering.
Several decorative varieties are bred:
- ‘Bernstein’ - with yellowish foliage;
- ‘Irland’ - with dense green foliage and creeping branches;
- ‘Lucia’ - with yellow foliage;
- ‘Smaragd’ - with dense dark green shiny foliage and creeping branches.
- ‘Zitronella’ - with dense lemon-yellow shiny foliage and creeping branches.
There is no single approach to the classification of the genus.
According to one source, the genus is monotypic; the only species is Blackweed, or Aronia (Empetrum nigrum). The view has two varieties:
- Empetrum nigrum var. asiaticum - asian
- Empetrum nigrum var. japonicum - japanese
According to other sources, the genus includes several species:
- Vodyanik bisexual (Empetrum hermaphroditum). Monoecious plant with dark green leaves and black berries.
- Synonym: Empetrum nigrum subsp. hermaphroditum
- Vodyanika red (Empetrum rubrum). South American species with red berries. On the bushes occasionally come across black berries, showing a kinship with the original look, Vodyanika black.
- Synonyms: Red-fronted waterweed (Empetrum atropurpureum); Empetrum erythrocarpum; Empetrum eamesiisubsp. atropurpureum.
- Vodyanika is black (Empetrum nigrum). Dioecious plant with yellow-green leaves and black berries.
- Vodyanik almost Holarctic (Empetrum subholarcticum). Monoecious plant with black berries.
According to the The Plant List database, the genus consists of 4 species, while 9 subspecies have been identified within the Empetrum nigrum species:
- Empetrum asiaticum.
- Empetrum eamesii.
- Empetrum eamesii subsp. atropurpureum
- Empetrum eamesii subsp. eamesii
- Empetrum nigrum.
- Empetrum nigrum subsp. albidum
- Empetrum nigrum subsp. androgynum
- Empetrum nigrum subsp. asiaticum
- Empetrum nigrum subsp. caucasicum
- Empetrum nigrum subsp. hermaphroditum
- Empetrum nigrum subsp. kardakovii
- Empetrum nigrum subsp. nigrum
- Empetrum nigrum subsp. sibiricum
- Empetrum nigrum subsp. subholarcticum
- Empetrum rubrum.