Located in the Russian Far East, the island of Sakhalin is allegedly home to giant versions of common plants like buckwheat, burdock and butterbur that can grow up to 5 meters tall.

Sakhalin is known for being the largest island in the Russian Federation, as well as a point of contention between Japan and Russia over the centuries. However, according to obscure reports going back over a decade, the northernmost island of the Japanese archipelago, as well as the nearby Kuril Islands are home to versions of ordinary herbaceous plants of truly gigantic proportions. Plants that normally reach the knee of an average adult, on these islands allegedly grow several times the height of a human.

According to a 2009 report in Russian newspaper Izvestia, Russian scientists had long been studying the giant plants that grew in certain regions of Sakhalin Island. Buckwheat plants up to 3 meters tall, burdock leaves that reached 5 meters sound like something out of Jack and the Beanstock, but the photos of giant plants doing the rounds on social media suggest that there is some truth to these claims.

Researchers from the Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics and from the Russian Academy of Sciences reportedly carried out studies of unusually large herbaceous plants in 12 different areas in the south of Sakhalin and Kunashir islands, and found that the gigantic plants only grew in certain areas of the islands, and seemed to be influenced by frequent tectonic activity that give off significant heat, among other factors.

Apparently, the impressive size of the grass has little to do with the plants themselves, and more with the environment. When taken out of the environment and planted elsewhere, they only grew to their ordinary size. The gigantic plants grow on gley, waterlogged soil located above the faults of the Earth’s crust, through which a large amount of heat and petroleum hydrocarbons are supplied to the roots of plants.

A higher concentration of copper and chromium compounds was also identified as a potential factor of extraordinary growth.

Photos of these gigantic plants – including buckwheat, burdock and butterbur – that allegedly grow on Sakhalin and several of the Kuril islands recently went viral on Russian social media. The public feedback has been mixed, with some who claim to have grown up in the Far East confirming the height of the plants, and others dismissing the claims as mere stories.

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