CITY SCAPE Of the same family as the British daffodils, thunder lilies are cheerful harbingers of rain
Take a walk on the pavement alongside Richmond Road. And while you lament for the Bangalore you once knew, suddenly a patch of pure white crocuses ( Zephyranthes crinata) peep out at you from a cement planter.The three planters look quite drab through the year, and have suddenly burst into life with the recent April and May thunder showers.
Further down on Richmond Road, in the garden of a run down colonial bungalow, a mass of bright yellow crocuses have bloomed.
The internet tells us the flower is a perennial herb with underground bulbs, and long, stringy leaves. One solitary flower per bulb, will pop up when thunder showers hit the city. Once the blooms die, seed pods are formed which, when mature produce black, smooth seeds.
Rameela Menezes, a teaching associate in the Bangalore Veterinary College, Hebbal reveals, “With the rains, there are beautiful yellow miniature blooms all over campus.”
Originally crocuses were native of the Mediterranean region, and were cultivated as ornamental plants. But a few escaped into the wild and have spread. These flowers bloom only with the first rains and so its vernacular name is wind lily, or thunder lily.
“Pink, yellow and white blooms, have popped out at the hint of rain in my garden. We had lived in our house for three years, planted the bulbs, enjoyed the flowers season after season and then left. We returned to the house after seven years, shuffled the beds and that night a light drizzle brought out hundreds of shoots of the pretty delicate crocus!” says householder Pratima Das.
Vijay Thiruvady who has written the book “Heritage Trees, in and around Bangalore,” and handles an educative walk through Lalbagh teaching visitors about the varied flora in the garden says, “These are of the same family as the British daffodils. Instead of teaching our children about the Lake District in England and the ‘hosts of daffodils' by Wordsworth, which they might not understand, let us take our children out to Lalbagh and show them the carpets of yellow crocuses, which are blooming here in Bangalore, right now.”
Pink, yellow, white or lilac, crocuses come in a variety of colours and are flowering across the city, in the few left over open spaces and especially in Lalbagh. We need to save these little harbingers of rain which spread happiness and colour across the city.