In just a week from now, Mumbai’s forests will wear a lavender blush from Tungareshwar to Yeoor, Borivali and Goregaon. After a gap of eight years the Karvi bush, a plant peculiar to the Western ghat, is set to bloom again.
“The plant, which is usually found in the Sahyadris and some places of South India, is now budding. It will bloom by the third week of August. Usually, these shrubs take seven years to grow from seed to bush. They bloom only once before they die out,” explained independent botanist and wildlife photographer Hemant Tripathi.
In Mumbai, the Karvi is found throughout the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, including Karnala, the Yeoor hills, Tungareshwar and some parts of Goregaon’s Film City.
This mass flowering plant was last seen in bloom in the year 2000.
While several genus of the Karvi are found in India, including the common Bakra flower in the Nilgiris, the purple flowering Karvi Callosa has an interesting life cycle, say naturalists. “Once the plant flowers, it goes to the fruiting phase. The fruits take an entire year to dry up and are ready to germinate by next monsoon. If you visit the forest by the next year’s monsoons, you will hear the loud cracking of the Karvi seeds as they pop open,” explained Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) Conservation expert V Shubhalaxmi.
Next week, BNHS will organise nature trails to the SGNP to witness the blooms.
The typical lifespan of a single Karvi bloom lasts between 15 and 20 days. Tripathi said that the Karvi bloom usually extends from mid-August to September-end. “It is a wild and sturdy bush whose stems are usually used in building huts. But during its rare bloom, the honey collected from the Karvi harvest is in great demand,” he informed.
Naturalists stated that during the season, the forests see a profusion of unusual insects and birds that come to feed on the Karvi nectar. Birds like the grey-breasted Prinia and Tailor are some examples. Snails too are said to appear to feast on Karvi buds.
After the mass flowering of the bamboo earlier this year after several decades, nature enthusiasts consider the eighth-yearly flowering of the Karvi the most spectacular event.