En masse bamboo flowering, perhaps one of the strangest things to occur in the entire plant world, once in 50 years or so has hit Mokokchung district.
According to an official bulletin, the phenomenon of synchronized bamboo flowering in one of the bamboo species Bambusa Pallida, ‘ashi’ in Ao language left huge lush green bamboo forests barren in different parts of the district.
Vast bamboo forests of Changki, Mangmetong, Debuia, Lirmen, to name a few, once covered by lush green clumps of ‘Ashi’ transformed into huge inflorescences which is conspicuously noticeable even from far away. Elderly people who have vast knowledge on this unusual occurrence of synchronized bamboo flowering and seeding said that this particular bamboo species of ‘Ashi’ had last flowered in 1962. One of the beliefs associated with bamboo flowering was that a man can witness bamboo flowering only twice in his life time. While Tzürangkong, Japukong, Changkikong and part of Ongpangkong ranges witnessed massive flowering and seeding, gregarious bamboo flowering of ‘Ashi’ is yet to occur in other parts.
Elderly people said that not a single bamboo shoot sprouted from ashi last year thus sending a clear signal that time has come for the phenomenon of the synchronized flowering of ashi to occur and bear wheat-kernel like seeds and die out exactly after 48 years.
The official bulletin further added that in 1962, flowering of ‘Ashi’ (Bambusa Pallida) took place in the district resulting in a population explosion of rats and other menacing insects destroying standing crops in the fields in different parts of the district which in turn led to famine. In many villages, it was said in 1962 people relied on wild yam/forest tubers etc, as an alternative to stable food rice. However, the famine experienced in the district was not severe as experienced in Mizoram in 1958-59.
One of the unusual things associated with flowering of ‘Ashi’ is that an edible insect (stink bug) known by many Aos as ‘polo’ appeared in many places in the district. In Lirmen, one of the villages of Japukong range, swarms of this insect appeared on a hill top known to them as Polo temen (hill). Similar swarms of the same insect were also reported from Debuia and Mongchen village of Changkikong range.
It also added that the particular insect appeared the district only when bamboo flowering takes place and it was not known whether the insect was migratory or of local origin. Report from Debuia village said there has been increase in the population of jungle fowl following the bamboo flowering.
Apprehending increase in rats and other insects’ population, which may cause havoc in jhum fields, the department conducted rodent management in almost all the villages in the district. According to district agriculture officer, Mokokchung, Bendangtemsu there was report of increase in rat population from Mangmetong, Aliba, Longjang and Sungratsu and department had issued chemicals and local devices to arrest the explosion of rat population.