Human Flower Project

Sexy as a Septennial

Some plants—and other species—flower every seven years. Anticipation really lights a fire (and can withstand one, too).

imageKarvy blossom

Photo: Mumbai Central

I’ve been waiting for you…

And you’ve been coming to me

For such a long time now….”

long, as in, seven years. No wonder the Mumbai newspapers and bloggers sound deeply in love—with karvy.

Strobilanthes callosus is blooming after a seven year rest. “Local businessman Julius Rego travelled for nearly two hours to see the Karvy. ‘It is not just the flowers but the entire landscape,’ he says.”

“I did see a whole clump of these shrubs with buds formed about two weeks ago in the forests near the Tansa sanctuary, just off the Mumbai Nashik road.” So India Mike alerts his readers, as if sighting a Bollywood starlet.



Hikers enjoy a forest of blooming karvy near Mahuli, India

Photo: Ravi Kiran

Here are pictures of Indian hikers blissed out as they wandered through thickets of blooming karvy near Mulshi. And here are more happy wanderers, heading off into the karvy covered hills near Visapur Fort, (these purple blooms don’t seem to have emerged).

You combine living in the fifth most crowded metropolis in the world and waiting seven years, and, yes, folks will wax ecstatic over countryside saturated with purple flowers.

We understand there are several types of karvy with bloom-cycles of varying length, “some even ranging up to 14 years.” But karvy is commonly referred to as a summer “septennial.”

Are there others? How about this stunner—Common beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) from the northern Rockies. After seven years of suspense, a sight like this might indicate the Rapture.  Speaking of cataclysms, rhizomes of X. tenax can survive fires: ” The plant thrives with periodic burns and is often the first plant to sprout in a scorched area.”

From Africa, there is Mimulopsis solmsii, a septennial known as setiot by the Okeik people of Kenya (this particular photo was taken in Zimbabwe).

imageEmma Hill sheltered by blooming Cardiocrinum giganteum, Dunham Massey garden in Altrincham, England, June 2008

Photo: Metro News

And a one-shot septennial is Cardiocrinum giganteum, the glorious Himalayan lily. After seven years of growth it blooms and then dies—who could ask for anything more?

The Karvy show goes on for nearly month, after which “you will witness… popping sounds.” says Dr. V. Shubhalaxmi, of the Bombay Natural History Society. After it flowers, “the shrub is covered with fruits which absorb moisture and burst open with a pop.”

imageMr. Spock, feeling the press of Pon Farr, must head back to Vulcan to find a mate

Photo: Vesper Holly

You may recall that the peculiar society of septennials also includes Vulcans. Here is First Officer Mr. Spock in the throes of Pon Farr, the biological imperative to return to the home planet and mate every seven years (despite work obligations aboard the USS Enterprise). Seven years of logic and arched eyebrows would send anybody AWOL.

We hope to hear from readers of other septennials, botanical or otherwise.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/28 at 06:54 AM


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