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Plants and Animals

Cities in RUSSIA


Plants and Animals


Birch trees RussiaBirch trees RussiaPhoto: Brian Jeffery Beggerly CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The flora of Russia is strongly influenced by the continental climate. The vegetation can be divided from north to south into tundra, taiga, deciduous forest, steppe and desert areas.

The tundra extends several hundred kilometers south of the Arctic Ocean. The arctic tundra, on the islands and the northernmost parts of the mainland, is treeless and there are hardly any shrubs. The vegetation consists mainly of mosses and lichens, including reindeer mosses. The broad southern tundra is somewhat more overgrown with dwarf shrubs, such as peatlands with sphagnum moss in front, especially (12 species) birch (the national tree of Russia), spruce, larch, juniper, heather and willow.

Taiga RussiaTaiga RussiaPhoto: Elkwiki CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The taiga is characterized by a landscape of coniferous forests with many lakes and swamps. Spruce and Scots pine often dominate, further east Larix sibirica, Abies sibirica and Pinus sibirica occur. Blueberry varieties, such as bearberry, cranberry and blueberry, are characteristic in the undergrowth. The coniferous forests of the taiga pass through mixed forests with silver birch and aspen and oak, and in European Russia with hornbeam and yew, into a zone of deciduous forest, with trees as diverse as elms, ash, maples, linden, alder and in the west the beech. However, many of these forests have been destroyed and the swamps have been largely drained here.

Feather grass RussiaFeather grass RussiaPhoto: Le Loup Gris CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

A broad belt of tree steppes, mainly oak in the west and birch in the east, forms a transition to the zone of grass steppes, which mainly covers the area of the fertile black soil and is largely cultivated. Feather grass, fescue, torch grass and wormwood species dominate the steppes. In the spring, during the rainy season, the steppe turns into a colorful flower carpet with bulbs and tubers, annuals, including Citellus pygmaeus, and anemone and adonis species.

Locally there are salt marshes with salt-loving plants such as marsh herb and samphire. The vegetation of the deserts is sparse and, in addition to wormwood species, consists of some salt-loving plants such as Kochia, Camphorosma, Salsola and Anabasis.

In some places along the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, the vegetation has a Mediterranean character. The Caucasus has a very rich mountain vegetation.

Chamomile is the national flower of RussiaChamomile is the national flower of RussiaPhoto: Fatih.sanli58 CCe 4.0 International no changes made

The national flower of Russia is the real chamomile.


Golden Eagle, RussiaGolden Eagle, RussiaPhoto: Takashi Hososhima CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

In the north of Russia and on the islands arctic fauna occurs, where rodents form the main part of the animal world, including lemmings and voles. These rodents are hunted by arctic foxes. The reindeer can be kept here as the only pet. In the summer many migratory birds (especially water birds) nest on the tundra, including curlews, ruffs, snipes, black-tailed godwits, stand runners and plovers. Polar bears, walruses, seals, seals and snow hares and snowy owls are found along the shores of the Arctic Ocean. The most common bird of prey is the rough-legged hawk, while the white-tailed eagle and the gyr-falcon also hunt larks, siskins, swallows, buntings and bluethroat. The golden eagle is Russia's national bird.

Brown Bear, RussiaBrown Bear, RussiaPhoto:Robert F. Tobler CC 4.0 International no changes made

The taiga south of the tundra is characterized, among other things, by the presence of wolf, wolverine, lynx, brown bear (the national animal of Russia) and moose. Red deer, roe deer and countless species of fur game are also found here, including the sable, weasel, ermine, silver fox and polecat.

The taiga is very rich in birds, especially typical forest dwellers such as woodpeckers, tits, finches, hawks, owls, reed geese, hookbills, crossbills and nutcrackers. Blueberry bushes produce dark blue fruits here, which birds such as hazel grouse, bullfinch and waxwings love. Among the birds of prey, the marsh harrier dominates, but eagles and sparrowhawks are also common.

Wild Boar in winter in RussiaWild Boar in winter in RussiaPhoto: Vlod007 CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The mixed forest and deciduous forest area has a typical Central European fauna including red deer, wild boars, foxes and badgers. Before the extinction, the bison was the largest mammal here; it was released again on a modest scale.

The fauna of the tree steppes is derived from that of the deciduous forest, but also shows elements of that of the grass steppes (including the spotted suet, a kind of ground squirrel). The grass-steppe animal world has suffered the most from hunting; although the saïga, a steppe antelope, has recovered well, large ungulates like wild horses, and rodents like the bobak marmot have been wiped out.

Small rodents are still well represented; this is also the area of the locust plagues with the rosy starling as the main enemy of the locusts. Rodents also play a major role in the sand scooters, where the sand lark also occurs.

Sturgeon RussiaSturgeon RussiaPhoto:Jonathan Cardy CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Sharks, sturgeons, monk seals and toothed whales such as dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and porpoises occur in the Black Sea, in addition to about 170 fish species. The large inland seas such as the Caspian Sea and Lake Baikal often house a peculiar animal world.

These two largest lakes are also quite different; the Caspian Sea is very depleted, but Lake Baikal has a much richer animal world with 1700 species of which about 1100 are endemic. The best-known example is the Bajkalrob, the only freshwater seal in the world. The oil fish is also only found in Lake Baikal.

The bottom of the lake is covered with giant sponges, and swarms of algae-eating crustaceans and shrimp keep the water crystal clear.


Graaf, A. van der / Reis-handboek Sovjet-Unie

Rusland, Centraal-Azië en de Kaukasus
The Reader’s Digest,

Russia & Belarus
Lonely Planet

Te gast in Rusland
Informatie Verre Reizen

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
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