With Ivan Ivanovich driving, we departed Uman for his home in Kherson. Ivan, an expert of flora in the Kherson region and beyond, was an excellent guide and skilled driver for the occasionally treacherous roads of the region.
On the way to Kherson we stopped at a mine quarry turned recreational area, and after a quick dip in the water, we were back on the road and looking for more Camelina localities on the way to Kherson. Luckily, as we drove further south, Camelina became more and more common.
Three days were spent in the fields around the Kherson region (and surrounding oblasts). The first day we traveled to Odessa stopping at many dozens of localities on the way, and the second day we traveled east through the Kherson oblast all the way to Melitopol’ before turning around. Finally, on my last day of collecting, we traveled along a road following the eastern side of the Dniper river north east of Kherson.
Camelina was extremely common in these areas, in part due to the favorable dry and warm climate that most species of Camelina are adapted to. In fact, some areas were too dry and warm even for Camelina, for instance the Olesky Sands, a small desert in the Kherson oblast.
From Kherson, I traveled by bus back to Kiev to wrap up my work at the M.G. Kholodny institute of botany. I gave my farewells and thanked Dr. Sergei Mosyakin for all his excellent support and assistance with organizing field work for this project, and his ability to connect me with botanists and field experts throughout the country.
I arrived in Uman to work with some local collaborators and field experts in the region. During the extent of my time spent in Uman, I stayed at the hotel on the campus of the Sofiyivka Dendrological park. One can spend hours walking around the labyrinth of paths and trails and still not come close to seeing the whole park. Originally started over two hundred years ago in what was then Poland, the park has been constantly expanding. The many ponds, lakes, and streams provide for a tranquil atmosphere and beautiful scenes, as well as welcome sights for sore feet.
Three days of field collections took me all around the general vicinity of Uman, and fortunately Camelina was more commonly found than in the Western parts of Ukraine. Mostly we drove on very rural (and bumpy) roads in small loops covering ground in every direction around Uman.
Uman lies near the border of the "Forest Steppe" vegetation zone that covers most of central Ukraine, and is quite close to the dry steppe that occurs in the southern regions.
Using the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv as a base of operations, I have been conducting fieldwork in surrounding areas of the West with historical collections recorded for Camelina. My work has predominately focused on the Lviv oblast and the Rivne and Ternopil oblasts to the North and East of Lviv.
Luckily, we were able to recover wild Camelina from several localities, many of which were distant from agricultural fields allowing us to sample potential variation in deferentially adapted populations.
While in the field we decided to stop at the historical site of the Battle of Berestechko, a massive battle between Polish forces and Ukrainian Cossacks. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians died in these fields, and a monument, museum and church have been erected on the site.
Another stop was that of Kremenets Castle, a 13th century castle situated on a steep hill overlooking the city of Kremenets. These steep and dry slopes are ideal for Camelina, and it was no surprise to find Camelina in thick patches growing all around the perimeter walls of the castle.