Chapsky family forest in Minsk: over 480 species of plants, Murray pine and oak with unique shape

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Chapsky family forest in Minsk: over 480 species of plants, Murray pine and oak with unique shape

Birdsong does not subside, branches of old trees intertwine and the fragrance of unique plants captivates. Incredible harmony and magical atmosphere. You seem to find yourself in the middle of the play on a mystical massive green alley, with soft light and fanciful trees surrounding you.

This oak-dark coniferous forest adjacent to the Kurchatova Street resembles a real oasis in the bustling concrete jungle of the city. Today, this unique oak forest covers an area of ​​24 hectares and is under the protection of the Belarusian State University. However, residents of the nearby village of Schemyslitsa know well that this forest is older than their grandparents and are especially proud of it.

In the 19th - early 20th centuries, the land around the village Schemyslitsa and the grove belonged the well-known Hutten-Chapsky family.

They were part of the village Priluki. In 1860, half of its territory was covered in forests. But now only 150 hectares of those forests remained. It is named romantically after the last owners - the Chapsky family grove.

Ales Spitsyn, biologist:
We are now on the campus of the Belarusian State University and the campus stands on lands that once belonged to Priluki. And the center of the estate was exactly in Priluki. The estate belonged to the Ivanovsky family, then the Stankevich family and then to the famous Chapsky family. All these lands (Malinovka and the beginning of the river Loshitsa) were parts of the Priluki area.
The owners were attentive to this area. But during the Second World War, these territories suffered much. This territory was to be cleaned due to the need to build a railway here and due to guerillas' needs, too.

So, after the war, the area of ​​the ecological zone halved, the forest was cut into several parts.

By the way, at the beginning of the green band, near the Faculty of Radio Physics of Baku State University and the Institute of Applied Physical Problems, you can see not only the powerful Belarusian oaks, but also a collection of exotic trees: larch, Canadian fir, which were planted here in the 1970-1980s, but this is an experimental forest. Through the student's stadium we get into the historical grove and see there the unusual combination of spruce and oak.

Ales Spitsyn, biologist:
Typically, this happens very rarely, because spruces overshadow oaks, acidifying the soil.. Oaks cannot grow with firs. And then an additional park of oaks was planted near this part of the forest. Here they are.... See them? They are planted forming long alleys. These oaks are wild, they grew together with the firs. Why they created this park there? I do not quite know. What surprises me is that the palace itself is in Priluki, not here. Perhaps there was a hunting lodge here. And this forest park was created to surround it.

The curved trunks and branches of old-timers are ready to tell you its legends. This part of the groove is the most authentic, then comes the park part.

By the way, until 1986 this site was abandoned and primeval. The plans for the expansion of Minsk and construction of the campus included the removal of valuable parts of the grove to build a garage cooperative.

But people were against it and this place even received the status of the monument of national importance.

Ales Spitsyn, biologist:
In the background, we see a very interesting form of oak. We can say with confidence that it was only an acorn during the last partition of Rzeczpospolita because it is about 200, maybe 210 years old. Its shape is very peculiar. It is connected with the fact that it grew up constantly throughout his life and, most importantly, among firs. Spruces constantly covered light, and he constantly turned around all the time in order to find the best place and get the most of sunlight.

Some exotic plants were brought to the forest in the early XX century by the Chapsky family themselves. Since the 1930-1940s, the oak grove has been owned by the BSU. With the purpose of research, scientists have planted here Murray pine, northern oak and other trees.

Among the botanists who worked on the enrichment of the oaks was a student of the famous geneticist Nikolai Vavilov. He wrote to his teacher about the exclusive forest landscape. According to a legend, it was Vavilov's idea to plant here exotic trees to see how they will coexist with oaks and firs.

Ales Spitsyn, biologist:
First of all Manchurian walnut s were planted here. They have huge leaves, like those of palm trees. Now they are widely used in Minsk for landscape gardening. It looks like a walnut. This is the same juicy fruit. Its bones are edible. However, there is little to eat there, to be honest. Manchurian walnut gained ground here and sometimes city services have to cuts it down because a lot of nuts fall every year and the ground becomes covered in them like a carpet.

Now the groove has about 80 unique trees. All in all it is home to more than 480 species of plants. Some of them are listed in the Red Book of Belarus.

Ales Spitsyn, biologist:
Here you can see Siberian spruce with the bark that resembles cork tree, because bark is thicker than that of our spruce. You can almost certainly make bottle corks from it. This is paper birch. It was also brought from the Far East. It is the only one here. Why is it called paper? Because its bark resembles manuscript.

This is the legacy of the Chapsky grove. It is undoubtedly worthy of staying in this place to make glad several generations to come.