Floristic Investigations of Historical Parks in St. Petersburg, Russia

by Maria Ignatieva¹ and Galina Konechnaya²

¹Landscape Architecture Group, Environment, Society and Design Division, P.O. Box 84, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand
²V.L. Komarov Botanical Institute, Russian Academy of Science, 2 Professora Popova St., St Petersburg, 197376, Russia


From 1989 to 1998, our team of researchers conducted comprehensive floristic and phytocoenological investigations in 18 historical parks in St. Petersburg, Russia. We used sample quadrats to look at plant communities; we also studied native species, nonnative species, "garden escapees," and exotic nonnaturalized woody species in numerous types of park habitat. Rare and endangered plants were mapped and photographed, and we analyzed components of the flora according to their ecological peculiarities, reaction to human influences (anthropotolerance), and origin. The entire park flora consisted of 646 species of vascular plants belonging to 307 genera and 98 families. Our analysis of species distribution in the parks showed a clear tendency toward a decrease in the number of species from the suburbs to the city center. The flora of gardens in the center of St. Petersburg was comprised mainly of weedy, meadow, and forest-meadow species and plants of open disturbed habitats. Rare herbaceous species were registered in almost all historical parks. Our study found large percentages of wetland and aquatic plants in most suburban parks, indicating that disturbances or management practices have impeded the parks' drainage systems. Our floristic investigations led us to identify ten plant indicator groups. These groups can be used for future analysis and monitoring of environmental conditions in the parks. This paper also includes analyses of plant communities in 3 of the 18 parks. Such analyses are useful for determining the success of past restoration projects in parks and other habitats and for planning and implementing future projects.