Wildflowers of Nashik’s Western Ghats

Wildflowers of Nashik’s Western Ghats

NASHIK: The Western Ghats or Sahyadri are the mountain ranges running parallel to the west coast from south Gujarat to Kanyakumari, covering south Gujarat, western Maharastra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The Western Ghats in Nashik stretch from north to south across the western portion of the district, which is hilly and the slope of the ghats is drained by several rivers, including the Daman Ganga, Vaitarana, Bhima, Girana, Kashyapi and Darana, which drains westwards to the Arabian Sea.

The Western Ghats in Maharashtra start from the Baglaan range, situated north of Nashik district bordering with Dang district in Gujarat. Nashik is blessed with immense biodiversity with variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level. We have several different habitats like forests, grasslands, and wetlands around the city where different life forms exist.

The Southwest monsoon brings in heavy rainfall to the narrow strip of the west coast and western slopes of the Ghats. Next to the northeastern region, this region has the richest diversity of flora and fauna. During the monsoon, along the coast and on the hills, humidity rises as high as 80 to 100 percent. Frequent rains provide ideal conditions for plant growth.

Monsoons in Nashik are very special, especially for nature lovers. Monsoon is the time when everything has turned green and brings life everywhere. Right from tiny ants building nests, the flowering of rare endemic herbs, emerging crabs from the ground after a long hibernation, multiplying of insects to the nesting of birds in addition to the courtship displays of our national bird. The monsoon forest has a lot to tell. Monsoon flora emerges, and one can pursue wild flowers while being outdoors.

During the first week of the season, a million Pink-striped Lilies bloom and brighten up the area near Borgad Conservation Reserve, which lies east of Nashik. There are three varieties of Karvi that bloom every seven years. Also, rare monsoon flora like species of Ceropegia that are endemic to Western Ghats are found in these forests.

The rarest of them known as Ceropegia anjanerica, named after the mountain Anjaneri, is only found on top of that hill and nowhere else in the world. Wildflowers are important nectar sources for many creatures. In fact, having these beautiful wildflowers provide an attractive landscape as well as a habitat for birds and insects, including butterflies.

Wildflowers are very important to us as they help maintain a healthy ecosystem; they attract beneficial insects that feed on the wildflowers and make their home in them. In turn, these insects help to pollinate our crops to grow to produce for us to eat, and the insects are food for other wildlife like birds and amphibians. Wildflowers provide food for humans as well as wildlife. Take the sunflower for example. The bright yellow and brown flower offers seeds, oil and other products we need.

How, where and when to spot

Watching wildflowers can be one of the most enjoyable pursuits, especially if you enjoy the sunshine and walking. You can watch flowers at leisure and unlike bird watching, you need not be out before sunrise. Watching flowers on the hills is very rewarding, both before and after rains. From February to May, several perennial shrubs, climbers and trees flower in preparation to have seeds when it rains. The departing monsoon leaves a colourful trail of monsoon flowers. Wildflowers are easy to spot if you look around (mostly on the ground); monsoon is the best time. Nearby hills and forest patches are the ideal places.

Precautions to be taken

Wildflowers are the jewels of the forests. Like any treasure, they must be protected for all to enjoy. Next time you see a field of wildflowers, enjoy the beauty they provide, but also remember that the medicine you take, the food you eat and the air you breathe are all benefits of the colourful plants!

  • Take only photographs & memories when you leave.

  • Please, don’t pluck the flowers.

  • Walk lightly and stay on the trail.

- Pratiksha Kothule, Nature Conservation Society of Nashik

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