Spring in winter

Early blooms in Uttarakhand worry scientists

THE Rhododendron flowers were in full bloom in Uttarakhand in December. Nothing unusual about that except the timing was wrong. Uttarakhand has a large diversity of rhododendron trees and shrubs that usually bloom between February and May. But forest patches in Chamba, Mussorie, Uttarkashi and Almora districts brightened with the pink and red rhododendron or burnas flowers two months earlier.
Residents of Uttarakhand first noticed changes in flowering patterns three years ago. In 2006, early flowering was seen on a few rhododendron trees in Almora district. In November 2007 residents of Pinder Valley in Garhwal noticed the flowers. This season the phenomenon has been noticed in almost all districts. Even the litchis, peaches and apricot trees are bursting with blossoms in Ramnagar and Kumaon.