Towards the foothills of the Caucasus they are clothed with thick forests, while in the west they merge into the steppes of south Russia or end in marshy ground, choked with reeds and rushes, in the delta of the Kuban.
A flight of stone steps leads the way down to a narrow passage, through which the air rushes with violence, outward in summer and inward in winter.
Some 320 species of fern have been collected, and there are large numbers of spiny and prickly plants, as well as numerous grasses, reeds and rushes, many of them of great service in the native manufactures of mats, hats, baskets, &c.
(From Photographs by C. Evans.) In a very few years, however, the open pit mining was rendered impossible by the mud rushes, by the falls of the masses of barren rock known as " reef," which were left standing in the mine, and by landslips from the sides, so that in 1883, when the pit had reached a depth of about 400 ft., mining in the Kimberley crater had become almost impossible.
The native fishermen know all about them; how the eggs are fastened to the water plants, how soon after the little larvae swarm about in thousands, how fast they grow, until by the month of June they are all grown into big, fat creatures ready for the market; later in the summer the axolotls are said to take to the rushes, in the autumn they become scarce, but none have ever been known to leave the water or to metamorphose, nor are any perfect Amblystomas found in the vicinity of the two lakes."