Bamboo blossom is a natural phenomenon in which the bamboos of a place will blossom and become hung with bamboo seeds. In China and India, "bamboo blossom" was traditionally seen as a curse or an indication of a starvation coming.
Bamboos usually have a life-cycle of around 40 to 80 years, varying among species. Normally, new bamboos grow up from bamboo shoots at the roots. If the soil changes in humidity or nutrition in such a way that the plants have difficulty growing, they will start to blossom. After the blossom, the flowers produce fruit, which the Chinese called "bamboo rice". Then, the bamboo forest will die. Since a bamboo forest usually grows from a single bamboo, the death of bamboos occurs in a large area.
Because of misunderstandings about bamboo and the Giant Panda, people used to believe that the death of bamboo forests would seriously affect the lives of great pandas. Now, we know that pandas will move to other bamboo forests when they have consumed all edible bamboos of an area, or when the bamboos of an area are dying.
Bamboo is believed to be able to sense changes in soil. Therefore, people in China believe that the blossom of bamboos is a precursor of coming natural disasters.
Recent studies in India have found that, whenever bamboo blossoms, the rat population will increase fourfold, due to the "bamboo rice" nurturing the rats, and the expanded population of rats consumes the crops stored by people. Starvation is thus caused, so the blossom has become an indicator of coming starvation in Northeast India.
- --, (2001), Bamboo Blossom Won't Cause Panda Extinction: Expert, English People's Daily, August 20, 2001.
- Rahul Bedi, (2006), Rat boom threatens hunger for millions, "New Zealand Herald", November 18, 2006.
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