Wise nature often baffles scientists. This is the case of some animals and plants, which have unusual reproduction cycles. As occurs with the flowering of henon bamboo, which occurs after 120 years of waiting. Furthermore, it blooms only once and then dies. This flowering, which is about to happen, will help researchers study the plant’s reproductive cycle to learn more about its mysterious regeneration.
Henon bamboo flowering occurs every 120 years
The species known as henon bamboo, whose scientific name is Phyllostachys nigra var. henonis, is endemic to China. However, the country where it is most cultivated is Japan, which has been planting it since the 9th century.
What makes this species of bamboo a truly rare plant is its flowering cycle, which occurs every 120 years. After this flowering, the plant dies. The last flowering occurred in 1908, although small blooms subsequently occurred between 1903 and 1912. Complying with this cycle, they estimate that the next massive flowering will occur in 2028.
They fear that the plant cannot regenerate after flowering
In Japan, there is growing concern about the state of bamboo forests, which cover approximately 1,700 square kilometers and play a crucial role in the local economy.
Uncertainty prevails due to the peculiar nature of this plant, which takes more than a century to flower and, even more worrying, is that, not all henon bamboo flowers produce seeds. This poses significant challenges for the regeneration of the plant, in addition to fears about the risk of its disappearance.
Scientists at Hiroshima University investigated the mystery surrounding bamboo, focusing on specimens that flowered unusually early. Their research reveals that many of these flowers lack seeds and that, unfortunately, no new stems develop from the plant’s root system after flowering. The results of this study were published in the journal PLOS One.
The leader of this research, Toshihiro Yamada, noted that “the bamboo did not produce any viable seeds capable of germination,” and highlighted that the generation of new bamboo shoots completely stopped after flowering. Furthermore, for at least the last three years, no signs of plant regeneration were observed.
The conclusion of this study raises serious concerns about the survival of henon bamboo in Japan. It seems unlikely that the plant can regenerate effectively after flowering, raising fears that bamboo forests could be transformed into extensive grasslands, which in turn would have significant consequences for the region.
The flowering of henon bamboo can harm Japan’s economy and also its ecology
As Yamada explains, there is a possibility that the plant can regenerate underground. However, this process can take many years, taking into account the characteristics of bamboo.
The consequences can be economic and environmental. This species covers a vast area of land, so modifications can occur in the ecosystem. Likewise, there are industries in Japan that use bamboo as a raw material, which could be seriously harmed.
In addition, the plant is of vital importance in preserving the soil from erosion and preventing landslides. As it also maintains the vegetation cover in the area where it is developed in optimal conditions.