Burans bloom three months early, fail to juice up business
Dehradun: Bharat Singh, 37, a resident of Khirsu in Pauri Garhwal, is worried due to early flowering of Rhododendron. His family extracts juice from the flowers to make a living.dehradun Updated: Feb 22, 2017 20:24 IST
Dehradun: Bharat Singh, 37, a resident of Khirsu in Pauri Garhwal, is worried due to early flowering of Rhododendron. His family extracts juice from the flowers to make a living. Bharat is not the only one looking for storage facility.
Burans, as they are locally called, now flower in February-March instead of May-June about a century ago, claims a research done by GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development in 2014. Climate change is the culprit.
The flowering pattern of Rhododendron arborerum was studied in Central Himalayas which includes Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand.
Back in Khirsu, the change in flowering season means double the expenses for Bharat and other villagers. “Flowering in February means loss of flowers. It rains at least once in February-March which washes away the flowers. So, people have started looking for storage facility so that flowers can be preserved for longer duration,” Bharat told Hindustan Times.
Locals like Bharat mainly extract juice from the flowers. Small enterprises manufacture jams and jellies from the flower. The juice cost Rs 60-65 per litre. The price has shot up in last one decade owing to early blooming. “The villagers used to sell it for Rs 40-50 per litre. But due to difficulties in procuring and storage of flowers, the rate has increased,” Pauri-based salesman Akash said.
Rise in temperature is one of the main reasons for early blooming of rhododendron which is an important indicator of climate change. The 2014 study clearly highlights, ‘such advancement is most often attributed to corresponding increase in temperature’.
The study was done comparing data of research period 2009, 2010 and 2011 with the herbarium specimen collected from Dehradun-based Botanical Survey of India and Forest Research Institute and National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow. Real time temperature analysis was done to ascertain this shift of flowering season.
“We reported a shift of 88-97 days in flowering period. Traditionally, the flowers bloomed after May, but now it is reported in February itself,” Ranbeer S Rawal, senior scientist and principal investigator of the study at GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, said.
And it is not only humans are affected. The change in flowering pattern is affecting breeding of avian species. “Though there’s no research to substantiate it, but based on the observations we have realized how breeding of Oriental Magpie has shifted early in Himalayan states due to early flowering-which also includes rhododendron,” Anil Kumar, avifauna expert of Zoological Survey of India, told Hindustan Times.
Director at horticulture department, DS Negi agrees to what Kumar’s assertion. “This shift due to temperature rise - of which there are recorded evidences - indicates how climate change is influencing flora and fauna.”
Rhododendron is the state flower of Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland. It is the state tree of Uttarakhand and Sikkim. Rhododendron has immense socio-cultural significance. In Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, Phool Sankranti is celebrated to mark the festival of flowers. The flowers are offered to deities. Its fresh leaves are burnt along with leaves of few spices for smoke which is believed to be sacred in Arunachal Pradesh.