Included here is the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian far east. It lies between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Sea of Okhotsk to the west.

Okhotske-Kamchatkan Larch Forest

Forests dominated by larch occur around the northern coast of the Sea of Okhotske, the Amur basin and the centre of Kamchatka. The dominant species Larix dahurica appears to be an aggregate of several local endemic taxa such as L. ochotensis and L. kamtschatica (Pinaceae), but the their taxonomic status is still unclear. The tree layer is typically composed of pure, even aged stands with a one-stratum canopy. Where the climate favours other trees, larch is often shaded out due to its intolerance to shade. However, these relatively open forests normally have a good shrub layer mainly composed of circumboreal species and species confined to the eastern parts of Asia. In the lowlands these include Betula middendorffii, Ledum palustre and Vaccinium uliginosum, while in more upland areas Rhododendron dauricum and R. parvifolium become more conspicuous. The herb layer is also rich in species. In the wetter lowlands Carex appendiculata, C. schmidtii, Calamagrostis langsdorffii and Eriophorum vaginatum are some of the more typical species. In the uplands the most abundant species are Arctostaphylos uva-ursa, Carex vanheurckii, Solidago spriaeifolia and Vaccinium vitis-ideae.

Okhotske-Kamchatkan Spruce-Fir Forest

These dark coniferous forests are dominated by Ayan (or Yezo) spruce Picea jezoensis (Pinaceae). It is a near endemic species with a range that includes northern Sikhote-Alin, the western coast of the Sea of Okhotske, the Chanbai-Shan, Shanter Islands, Sakhalin, the southern Kurils (Iturup & Kunashir), central Kamchatka, and south as far as central Honshu. Because of its ability to tolerate shade, it usually forms dense forest over much of its range, and although it may form pure stands, it is often associated with fir trees such as Abies nephrolepis (in more continental areas) and the near endemic Abies sachalinensis (Pinaceae) in the more maritime island areas.  A lower tree layer may include the near endemic Sorbus amurensis (continental areas) or S. mixta (island areas). In the darkest forests, shrubs are absent, but a few shade tolerant species like Eleutherococcus senticosus, Euonymus pauciflora and Oplopanax elatus may be found in the more open areas. On islands Ilex rugus, Skimmia repens and the near endemic Vaccinium axillare (Ericaceae) can be significant components of the shrub layer.  The herb layer is equally patchy and contains a pool of mainly boreal species. Examples include Chamaepericlymenum canadense, Diplazium sibiricum, Pseudocystopteris spinulosa and the near endemic Leptorumohra amurensis (Dryopteridaceae). On Sakhalin, these forests include many species endemic to Sakhalin and Japan such as the shrubs Euonymus miniata (Celastraceae), Hydrangea panuculata (Hydrangeaceae), Ilex rugosa (Aquifoliaceae), Vaccinium hirtum (Ericaceae), Viburnum furcatum (Caprifoliaceae), and the herbs Aralia cordata (Araliaceae) and Petasites amplus (Asteraceae). 

Okhotske-Kamchatkan Beringian (Pinus pumila) Woodland

These woodlands mainly dominated by the dwarf pine Pinus pumila are largely confined to oceanic and sub oceanic areas close to the Bering Sea, and can be found, for example, along much of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Anadyr and Penzhina river basins in the Koriakskiy Mountains, on the Cammander Islands and on the northern Kurile Islands. Other associated trees and shrubs may include Alnus fruticosa and Larix dahurica. The canopy height varies from about 3 m in the lowlands down to about 40 cm at the altitudinal limit. This is about 1400 m and represents the timberline for much of this area. On the other hand, a number of the upland forests in Kamchatka suffer from the affects of volcanic eruptions and as a result are in a permanent state restoration. The associated undergrowth is varied but may include several interesting species such as Agrostis kudoi, Anemone sibirica, Aster sibiricus, Empetrum sibirica, Pedicularis labradorica, Potentilla vulcanicola, Trisetum sibiricum and the endemic Allium ochotense (Alliaceae), Atragene ochotensis (Ranunculaceae), Oxytropis erecta (Fabaceae) and Poa schumushuensis (Poaceae).


Hulten, E. 1971. The plant cover of southern Kamchatka. Arkiv för botanik, 7: 181- 257.

Knystautas, A. 1987. The Natural History of the USSR. Century Hutchinson Ltd.

Kolbek, J., Srutek, M. & Box, E. O. 2003. Forest Vegetation in Northeast Asia. Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Takahashi, K., Homma, K., Vetrova, V. P., Florenzev, S. & Hara, T. 2001. Stand structure and regeneration in a Kamchatka mixed boreal forest. Journal of Vegetation Science, 12: 627-634.