The Taiga Forest in Primorye (also known as Ussuri Taiga) is a surreal mix of northern and southern flora and fauna. When the ice age descended on other parts of Russia, the Primorye region was spared. This forest is still very well preserved in most areas, and you will be able to find Amur cork tree, lianas, tigers and leopards.
Primorye residents are very familiar with its local wild plants and use them for various purposes. Schisandra (also known as Magnolia vine), a woody vine with oval pink leaves and bright red berries that have a very sour-bitter taste, is very popular in this region as a remedy to regulate blood pressure. Surprisingly, all parts of this plant can be consumed: the berries, their seeds, and even the vine itself; and the different parts are typically brewed like a tea.
Another very popular vine is the Kish-mish (Actinidia kolomikta). It’s a long-lived, deciduous, woody creeping vine with green grape-sized fruits similar to kiwifruit in taste and appearance. Many wild grapes can also be found in Primorye. They are sour, but very fragrant and delicious. The locals use it to make a wonderful homemade wine.
Taiga villagers like to gather pine nuts (the tree is called “Korean pine”). These pine nuts are larger than the Siberian variety, with a very thick shell. You can also come across another, more exotic nut called the Manchurian walnut. It is a relative of the walnut, and it is just as healthy and tasty.
The most popular plant in the Taiga forest has to be the ginseng, or “the root of life.” Another plant similar to ginseng is the Eleutherococcus, also commonly known as Eleuthero or Siberian ginseng. It is used by the people in the Taiga region to increase performance, improve quality of life, and reduce infections. Also, Primorye residents collect wild garlic and edible ferns, which they salt, pickle, and stew.
All these taiga delicacies can be easily found in Vladivostok’s farmers markets.