Our Beautiful World

Changbaishan Mountains - China
Baekdu Mountain - Korea North

Lake Tianchi (Sky Lake)

Covering a total area of 2000 square km, Changbai Mountains National Reserve is, as a mammoth natural zoo
and botanical garden, part of the UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Program.
The Tianchi Lake (Heaven Lake), vertical scenery, aerial park, Hot Springs, and waterfalls are among the six local
natural wonders. The mountains, covered with primitive forests, make an excellent tourist destination.

It would be difficult to find a Korean (either from the South or the North) who hasn't heard of Baekdu Mountain.
It is regarded as the most sacred peak of the Korean Peninsula, and Koreans believe it to be the location of the
nation's origin.

Frankly speaking, Baekdu Mountain was bound to be famous. At the very least because it's the highest peak in Korea.
The 2,744-meter high mountain is actually situated on the border of China and North Korea, with two thirds of it in
North Korean territory. It is among the 10 most famous mountains of China. But for Koreans, it will always be
Mountain Number 1.

One of the highest crater lakes in the world, called Chonji (Lake Tianchi), lies at the top of the mountain.
The Tianchi (Changbaishan/Baekdusan) volcano is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes on the Chinese
mainland with a potential for eruption. In addition, 2 billion cubic meters of water that sits at the top of the volcano
could prove more dangerous during an eruption. The last time the volcano erupted was in 1903.

There are three main attractions at Mt. Baekdu: A 70-meter-high waterfall; ``Cheonji,''
or Heaven Lake; and the peak itself, with its unforgettable birds' eye view of the lake

Mt. Baekdu is actually a volcano, and the lake, situated 2,189 meters above sea level, was formed in a crater.
Its average depth is about 200 meters, with a maximum depth of 373 meters.
A display near Cheonji boasts it to be the highest lake of volcanic origin.


Flora and fauna

There are five known species of plants in the lake on the peak, and some 168 were counted along its shores.
Below the lake in the crater, the mountain offers a very large selection of flora, such as the rare Chang Bai larch.
The total count of the different species within the Nature Reserve is an impressive 80 trees and over 300 medicinal
plant species.

The area is a known habitat for tigers, bears, leopards, wolves, and wild boars. Deer in the mountain forests,
which cover the mountain up to about 2000 metres, are of the Paekdusan roe deer kind.

Black grouse, Tetrao tetrix/Lyrurus tetrix

Tetrao tetrix, Nov.2005
Photo: Hans Gasperl
Many wild birds such as black grouse, owls, and woodpecker are known to inhabit the area.
The forest on the Chinese side is ancient and almost unaltered by humans.
Birch predominates near the tree line, and pine lower down, mixed with other species.
In recent decades, significant climate warming has resulted in changes in the structure of the ancient forests on the
upper slopes, with a change over from birch to more pine, and a thickening of the forest canopy.
There has been extensive deforestation on the lower slopes on the North Korean side of the mountain.

The 'Underground Forest' at Changbaishan Mountain Biosphere Reserve
Photo: © Issen Llo
Formed in the same massive eruption that created the caldera lake, the Undergreound Forest is so named because its forest
floor is hundreds of metres below normal ground level. The fauna remains largely similar with its sourrounding of birch and pine,
and the forest itself has remained mostly untouched. A 45-minute trek takes one to the edge of the Underground Forest,
and it is fascinating to see how the land literally falls away, along with a rushing river shich is transormed in turn into a waterfall.


The Vertical Vegetation Zones

The lowest Vertical Vegetation Zone on Changbai Mountain is dominated by mixed coniferous and broad leaved
trees is at an altitude of 500-1,000 m, the lowest point of the vertical distribution of vegetation zones on Changbai
Mountain, where climate mild and humid,forests lush, and trees tall and ancient, known as the Sea of Forests.

In mid-summer, the green billows roll with mountain breeze across. In mid-autumn, hoar frost’s descending brings the
diversified scenery, as if painted with a heavy brush of multicolor. Coniferous and broad leaved trees such as
Korean pine, Pinus koraiensis, larch, Phellodendron amurense, and Chinese walnut, Juglans cathayensis dode,
are the main tree species, which are mixed with some other rattan plants, such as Amur grape, Vitis amurensis,
Schisandra chinensis
(literally “five flavor berry” in Chinese), and a variety of Chinese kiwi fruit.

Pinus koraiensis, Botanical Garden,
Wroclaw, Poland, May, 2006

Photo: Nova

Amur Cork Tree
Phellodendron amurense

Photo: Bruce Marlin

The tree species Pinus koraiensis is commonly called Korean Pine. It is native to eastern Asia, Korea, Manchuria,
far eastern Russia, and central Japan. In the north of its range, it grows at moderate altitudes, typically 600-900 m,
whereas further south, it is a mountain tree, growing at 2,000-2,600 m altitude in Japan. It is a large tree,
reaching a mature size of 40-50 m height, and 1.5-2 m trunk diameter.

Pinus koraiensis

Pinus koraiensis, it is a member of the white pine group, Pinus subgenus Strobus, and like all members of that group,
the leaves ('needles') are in fascicles (bundles) of five, with a deciduous sheath. They are 7-13 cm long.
Korean Pine cones are 8-17 cm long, green or purple before maturity, ripening brown about 18 months after pollination.
The 14-18 mm long seeds have only a vestigial wing and are dispersed by Spotted Nutcrackers, Nucifraga caryocatactes

Spotted Nutcracker, Tatras National Park, Oct 2007, Poland
Photo: MurrayBHenson

Phellodendron amurense Rupr. is a species of tree in the family Rutaceae, commonly called the Amur cork tree.
It is a major source of huáng bò, one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine.
The Ainu people used this plant, called shikerebe-ni, as a painkiller.

Amur cork tree, Phellodendron amurense ;Family:Rutaceae
Source: http://www.biolib.de www.biolib.de

Native to eastern Asia; northern China, Manchuria, Korea, Ussuri, Amur, and Japan, the Amur cork tree is considered
invasive in many parts of North America.

Vitis amurensis

Vitis amurensis, the Amur grape, is a species of grape native to the Asian continent. Its name comes from the
Amur Valley in Russia and China.

It is very resistant to frost, but is not tolerant to drought. Selections vary, but as a species it has strong resistance to
anthracnose and ripe rot, and moderately strong resistance to downy mildew and powdery mildew.

Changbai Scotch Pine is narrowly distributed, found only on the north slope of Changbai Mountain,
in Antu County of Jilin Province.

On the specific location of both sides of the Erdaobai River grows an endemic plant of Changbai Mountain—
the Beauty Pine, (Changbai Scotch Pine as its scientific name). The dense forests and abundant plants provide
favorable conditions for the wildlife’s habitat and reproduction.

The following trees also are here according to "Changbai Mountains mixed forests"
which are found at amur-heilong.net
Amur Information Centre / Portal

Forests in the Changbai Mountains are the richest in northeast China.
Low-elevation areas below 1,100 m support mixed stands of conifers and deciduous broadleaf trees. Conifers include Korean pine, Pinus koraiensis, Mandchurian fir,
Abies holophylla, red pine, Pinus densiflora, and Japanese yew,
Taxus cuspidata ssp. Latifolia. Deciduous broadleaf trees include
Mongolian oak, Quercus mongolica, Tilia amurensis,
Mandchurian ash, Fraxinus mandschurica, and dwarf birch, Betula ermanii.

Plant species with a subtropical affinity also occur in these forests.
Examples include woody climbers such as native Chinese gooseberry (Actinidia spp.),
or kiwi fruit and "Dutchman's pipe" (Aristolochia mandshuriensis).
Text: amur-heilong.net

Japanese Red Pine, Pinus densiflora

Red pine, Pinus densiflora
Source: Shizhao2005

Philipp Franz von Siebold and Joseph Gerhard Zuccarini, Anno 1870

The Japanese Red Pine, Pinus densiflora, has a home range that includes Japan,
Korea, northeastern China (Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Shandong) and the extreme southeast
of Russia (southern Primorsky Krai).
This pine has become a popular ornamental and has several cultivars, but in the winter it
becomes yellowish. The height of this tree is 20–35 m. The Japanese red pine prefers
full sun on well-drained, slightly acidic soil.

The leaves are needle-like, 8–12 cm long, with two per fascicle. The cones are 4–7 cm long.

In Japan it is known as Akamatsu ("red pine") and Mematsu. It is widely cultivated in
Japan both for timber production and as an ornamental tree, and plays an important part
in the classic Japanese garden.

Manchurian Fir, Abies holophylla

Abies holophylla in Hwasun, Korea
Source: Dalgial

Manchurian Fir, Abies holophylla, also called Needle Fir, is a species of fir native to
mountainous regions of northern Korea, southern Ussuriland, and China in the provinces
of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning.

It is an evergreen coniferous tree growing to 30 m tall and 1 m in trunk diameter with
a narrowly conical crown of horizontal spreading branches.
The bark is scaly and gray-brown with resin blisters.
The leaves ("needles") are flattened, 2-4 cm long and 1.5-2.5 mm thick, spread at right
angles from the shoot, and end in a point. They are bright green above and whitish-green
below with 7-10 stomatal bands.
The shoots are glabrous, shiny yellow-gray when young and turning gray-brown.
The cones are 12-14 cm long by 4-5 cm wide, yellow-brown, and slightly tapering with
a bluntly rounded apex.
The scale bracts are hidden under the cone scales. The seeds, 8-9 mm long with a
wedge-shaped wing 1.5 cm long,
are released after the cones disintegrate at maturity in October.

Mongolian Oak, Quercus mongolica

Quercus mongolica, commonly known as Mongolian Oak, is a species of oak native
to Japan, southern Kuriles, Sakhalin, Manchuria, Korea, eastern Mongolia, and eastern Siberia. The species can grow to be 30 m tall

Mongolian (or Manchurian) Oak in October 24, 2009. Southern Sihote-Alin
Source: Ruslan

Quercus mongolica, commonly known as Mongolian Oak, is a species of oak native
to Japan, southern Kuriles, Sakhalin, Manchuria, Korea, eastern Mongolia, and eastern Siberia. The species can grow to be 30 m tall.

Manchurian Ash , Fraxinus mandschurica

Manchurian Ash , Fraxinus mandschurica,
Herman, D.E., et al. 1996. North Dakota tree handbook. USDA NRCS ND State Soil Conservation Committee;
NDSU Extension and Western Area Power Administration, Bismarck. - Non-Copyrighted Image

Manchurian Ash, Fraxinus mandschurica, is a species of Fraxinus native to northeastern
Asia in northern China, Korea, Japan and southeastern Russia.Also Known as 'Chinese Oak'.

It is a medium-sized to large deciduous tree reaching 30 m tall, with a trunk up to 50 cm
in diameter. The leaves are 25-40 cm long, pinnate compound, with 7-13 leaflets,
the leaflets 5–20 cm long and 2–5 cm broad, subsessile on the leaf rachis, and with
a serrated margin.

They turn to a golden-yellow in early autumn, and the tree is usually early to change color
. The flowers are produced in early spring, before the new leaves, in compact panicles;
they are inconspicuous with no petals, and are wind-pollinated.
The fruit is a samara comprising a single seed 1-2 cm long with an
elongated apical wing 2.5-4 cm long and 5-7 mm broad.

It is tolerant of many soil conditions including the wet soils of swamps and river valleys,
and is not particular as to soil pH except for showing poor growth at high pH.
It requires full sun for optimal growth, and should receive at least 50 cm of precipitation
each year. It requires a continental climate with well-defined seasons with cold winters,
hot summers, and freedom from late spring frosts.

The seeds are eaten by a wide variety of birds.

Kiwi, Chinese gooseberry, Actinidia deliciosa

This image shows two whole and a cut green Hayward variety kiwifruit
Source: Luc Viatour

The kiwifruit, often shortened to kiwi in many parts of the world, is the edible berry of a cultivar group of the woody vine Actinidia deliciosa and hybrids between this and other species in the genus Actinidia.

The most common cultivars of kiwifruit are oval, about the size of a large hen's egg (5–8 cm / 2–3 in long and 4.5–5.5 cm / 1¾–2 in diameter). It has a fibrous, dull brown-green skin and bright green or golden flesh with rows of tiny, black, edible seeds. The fruit has a soft texture and a unique flavour.

Also known as the Chinese gooseberry, the fruit was renamed for export marketing reasons in the 1950s;
briefly to melonette, and then later by New Zealand exporters to kiwifruit.
This name "kiwifruit" comes from the kiwi — a brown flightless bird and New Zealand's national symbol,
and also a colloquial name for the New Zealand people.

The importer in the US, Ziel & Co in San Francisco suggested that the old name of Chinese Gooseberry was unsuitable, recommending instead a short, Maori name. Jack Turner initiated the name "kiwifruit" around 1962
as part of Turners & Growers marketing response to this feedback and the name became a global brand.
This fruit had a long history before it was commercialized as kiwifruit and therefore had many other older names.

This bubble map shows the global distribution of kiwifruit output in 2005 as a percentage of the top producer
(Italy - 415,050 tonnes).
Source: http://faostat.fao.org

Actinidia deliciosa is native to Southern China. Originally known as Yang Tao, it is declared as the "National Fruit"
of the People's Republic of China. Other species of Actinidia are also found in India and Japan and north into
southeastern Siberia. Cultivation spread from China in the early 20th century, when seeds were introduced to
New Zealand by Mary Isabel Fraser, the principal of Wanganui Girls' College, who had been visiting mission
schools in Yichang, China.[6] The seeds were planted in 1906 by a Wanganui nurseryman, Alexander Allison,
with the vines first fruiting in 1910.

A Kiwifruit Orchard
Source kiwi-fruit.info

The familiar cultivar Actinidia deliciosa 'Hayward' was developed by Hayward Wright in Avondale, New Zealand
around 1924. It was initially grown in domestic gardens, but commercial planting began in the 1940s.
Italy is now the leading producer of kiwifruit in the world, followed by New Zealand, Chile, France, Greece,
Japan and the United States. In China, kiwifruit was traditionally collected from the wild, but until recently
China was not a major producing country. In China, it is grown mainly in the mountainous area upstream of the
Yangtze River. It is also grown in other areas of China, including Sichuan.

Aristolochia manshuriensis

Aristolochia manshuriensis
Sources: www.ecopark.or.kr and www.georgiavines.com

No surprises here, this amazing looking vine is a Aristolochia species from China, known locally as guan mu tong.

Like most species in the genus this member is poisonous, with alkaloids present in its tissues and seeds causing
kidney problems (kidney failure and cancers) in mammals that consume it. This includes humans, as several people
taking chinese medicine, which included this species, found out in the 1990s.

It’s widespread in China, occuring in moist shaded forests in Gansu, Heilongjiang, Hubei, Jilin, Liaoning, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan provinces.

Wild sika deer, Cervus nippon, by a river in Shiretoko Peninsula, Hokkaido, Japan
Photo: NotAnonymous

The Sika Deer, Cervus nippon, also known as the Spotted Deer or the Japanese Deer, is a species of deer native
to much of East Asia, which is also introduced to various other parts of the world. It was previously found from
Vietnam to the south and Russia to the north. Their name comes from shika, the Japanese word for "deer".

The overwhelming majority of more than 300 kinds of vertebrate animals of Changbai Mountain inhabit here, including
mammals such as Siberian tiger, Panthera tigris altaica, sika deer, Cervus nippon, red deer, Cervus elaphus,
wild boar, and Asiatic black bear, Ursus thibetanus.

A Siberian tiger, Panthera tigris altaica, in the zoological garden of the citadel of Besançon
Photo: Gilles PRETET
Ursus thibetanus, Asiatic black bear, Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve
Photo: David Blank

Deutsch: Sibirischer Tiger, Amurtiger · English: Siberian Tiger, Amur Tiger · Español: Tigre siberiano, Tigre de Amur · Français : Tigre de Sibérie, Tigre de l'Amour · Italiano: Tigre siberiana · Lietuviu: Amurinis tigras ·· Polski: Tygrys syberyjski · Português: Tigre-siberiano ·· Svenska: Sibirisk tiger · Türkçe: Sibirya kaplani ·

Siberian tigers are majestic creatures. They are also called the Amur, Manchurian and Amba tiger.
Their coat is striped, yellow-orange in color and has white on its tail, underside, back and legs.
The males have ruffs of fur around their cheeks. They also love the water and are very strong swimmers.
Siberian tigers are usually solitaire animals except when mating, and their roar can be heard over a mile away.
Males are about 700lbs and about ten feet long from nose to tail. Females on the other hand weigh about 450lbs
and average a length of eight feet. In the wild, Siberian tigers live for about fifteen years, but in captivity they live longer,
to about twenty-five years.

Siberian Tiger, July 2005
Source Eva Hejda

Siberian tigers live in eastern Russia, northeastern China and northeastern Manchuria. They also live along the coastline
of Siberia where they can withstand temperatures of up to -40°F, but usually stay around -4°F.
Siberian tigers prefer cool temperatures. Even during the cold climate in the winter, the tiger is very active.
In the warm months the weather is cool in the northern range and temperate in the lower range of Manchuria.
They live in both coniferous and deciduous forests, but prefer areas with tall grass for hunting.
These tigers are native to the Amur-Ussuri region of Russia.
Text from: http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/s2007/salus_crys/

Wild birds such as the Mandarin duck, Aix galericulata,
hazel grouse, Bonasa bonasia, and great tit, Parus major,

Gloydius Ussuriensis. Observed in Dongbekdongsan Gotjawal Forest in Jeju Island, South Korea
Gloydius ussuriensis is a venomous pitviper species found in far east Russia, northeastern China and the
Korean Peninsula. Adult males are 37-63 cm in length, while adult females are 41-64.7 cm.

Photo: Yongchangjang

Reptiles such as snake, Gloydius ussuriensis, mountain grass lizard, Takydromus wolteri, and Amur rat-snake,
Elaphe schrenckii
, and amphibians such as Rana chensinensis (called “heshima” in Chinese) and
Siberian toad, Bufo raddei.

The coniferous forest zone

The coniferous forest zone is above the mixed coniferous and broad leaved forest zone, at an altitude of 1, 000-1, 700 m, where temperatures drop significantly, and the humidity of the air varies greatly, resulting in cold winters and cool
summers; where the main tree species are the cold-resistant conifer trees such as Korean pine, spruce, fir, and larch;
and where trees high and tall, forests thick and dense, many pine and cypress trees keep evergreen through the four

Martes zibellina
© www.lineahurones.es

The common mammals that inhabit the area are sable, Martes zibellina, squirrel, and brown bear, Ursus arctos.
The sable, Martes zibellina, is a species of marten which inhabits forest environments, primarily in Russia from the
Ural Mountains throughout Siberia, in northern Mongolia and China and on Hokkaido in Japan.
Its range in the wild originally extended through European Russia to Poland and Scandinavia. It has historically been
harvested for its highly valued fur, which remains a luxury good to this day.
While hunting of wild animals is still common in Russia, most fur in the market is now commercially farmed.

sable, Martes zibellina

The name sable appears to be of Slavic origin and to have entered most Western European via the early medieva
l fur trade. Thus the Russian sobol, and Polish soból became the German Zobel, Dutch Sabel; the French zibelline
Spanish cibelina, cebellina, Finnish soopeli and Mediaeval Latin zibellina derive from the Italian form (zibellino).
The English and Medieval Latin word sabellum comes from the Old French sable or saible.

Sables are sexually dimorphic: males measure 38–56 cm in body length, with a tail measuring 9–12 cm,
and weighing 880-1800 grams. Females have a body length of 35–51 cm, with a tail length of 7.2-11.5 cm.
The winter pelage is longer and more luxurious than the summer coat

A Japanese Tree frog,
Hyla japonica

Photo: masaki ikeda

A frog, Rana chensinensis,
from Southern Sakhalin Island, Russia.
Photo: Pamela J. Woods

Birds such as tridentate woodpecker and black grouse, reptiles like snake and Amur rat-snake, and amphibians like Japanese tree frog, Hyla japonica, and Rana chensinensis

The birch forest zone

Betula ermanii,

The birch, betula ermanii, forest zone is situated above the coniferous forest zone, at an altitude of 1, 700-2, 000 m,
where mountains rugged, climate cold, rainfall abundant, and wind strong. In such adverse climate, trees cannot grow
upright as birches elsewhere and their trunks bend like the backs of the elderly with unsteady steps.
Especially on the windward slope where high wind blows, the birch trunks are neatly tilted toward the leeward side,
almost creeping over the ground.

Adult and juvenile black-lipped pika, Ochotona curzoniae,
Ruoergai Marshes, Sichuan Province, China

Photo: David Blank

The inhabitants include mammals such as plateau pika, Ochotona curzoniae, birds such as tit and warbler,

Rana chensinensis, Aug. 2008
Photo: Johnleung2000s
and amphibians like Rana chensinensis.

The Asiatic Grass Frog or Chinese Brown Frog, Rana chensinensis, is a species of frog in the Ranidae family.
It is found in China, Mongolia, possibly North Korea, and possibly Russia. Its natural habitats are temperate forests,
rivers, intermittent rivers, swamps, freshwater lakes, freshwater marshes, intermittent freshwater marches, arable land,
pastureland, and irrigated land. It is threatened by habitat loss.
Within China, it is hunted for use in food and medicine (namely hasma).

The alpine tundra zone

The alpine tundra zone is situated above the birch forest zone, at an altitude of 2, 000 m at the mid-upper part of the volcanic cone on Changbai Mountain, where weather turning wicked, the distribution of the plants getting sparse
as well as the species, and tall arbores becoming extinct, a broad carpet of the alpine tundra comprised of the
perennial herbs such as lichens and moss.

From June to July, hundreds of flowers on the tundra are in bloom,
like a beautiful natural garden.

Pacific swift, Apus pacificus.
Photo: Robert Pudwill

The main mammal of the zone is plateau pika, and the typical bird is Pacific swift, Apus pacificus.

The Pacific Swift, Apus pacificus, or Fork-tailed Swift, is a small bird, superficially similar to a House Martin.
It is, however, completely unrelated to those passerine species, since swifts are in the order Apodiformes.

These birds have very short legs which they use only for clinging to vertical surfaces. The scientific name comes from the Greek, apous, meaning "without feet". They never settle voluntarily on the ground. Pacific Swifts spend most of their
lives in the air, living on the insects they catch in their beaks.

Pacific Swifts breeds from central Siberia eastwards through Asia. This species is migratory, wintering south to Australia.
It is a rare vagrant in western Europe, but has been recorded as far west as Norway and Great Britain.

These swifts build their nests on cliffs, laying 2-3 eggs. A swift will return to the same site year after year,
rebuilding its nest when necessary.

Pacific Swifts are similar in size to Common Swift, and they are black except for a white rump. They can be distinguished
from a partially leucistic Common Swift by the deeper tail fork, longer wings, bigger head and larger white throat patch.

And you can read a lot more about this beautiful spot in China, click here
Text above partly from http://english.jl.gov.cn/tou/touring/200812/t20081203_496059.html

A good hour and a half climb upwards you may see a huge waterfall like a white stripe belowe.
From a great ridge, vertiginous and narrow, the landscape beneath was small and far and across this great
valley you can see the jeeps winding their way up the opposite mountains. A spidery waterfall fell away
from the rocks and was swallowed by moist green hummocks of grass.

Tianchi Lake, Mt. Changbaishan, 2,744 m asl and Tianchi crater lake.

Tianchi Lake is clear blue, just like a flat mirror. It is surrounded by 16 towering yet singular peaks, each high
and steep, which throw their images on the lake and the shimmering water reflects their handsome faces.
What an awe-inspiring scene! Drifting clouds and speedy mist over the sky of Tianchi Lake is so unpredictable
that sometimes clouds stretching and rain drizzling, “one can see nothing but an ocean of obscurity and blurredness”,
and yet sometimes clouds constringing and mist restraining, the clear whether charts an exquisite landscape of
Tianchi Lake: “The brimming waves delight the eyes on sunny days; the dimming hills present rare view in rainy haze.”
Text for Tianchi Lake: http://english.jl.gov.cn/tou/touring/200812/t20081203_496059.html

A temple at the top of a waterfall near Mount Baekdu in North Korea, near the border to China.

North slope of Changbai Shan, Jilin province
Photo: Mätes II.

Changbai/Baekdu Mountain, Waterfall
Photo: Shizhao2005

Photo by So Min Sin


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