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Silence of the Mahua Tree: A Flowering Season Gone Wrong


Rare blooming of the Mahua flowers seen on the Mahua Tree this season
Rare blooming of the Mahua flowers seen on the Mahua Tree this season

Konkan Region, Maharashtra – This summer, a worrying silence has fallen over the forests of Maharashtra. The forest carpet that usually turns green with abundance of Mahua flowers is strangely missing. We were all geared up with big plans to promote and share the stories through documentation, to work with tribal communities like the Thakars and the Warlis, to help them celebrate their connection with this indigenous tree. As per our previous years observations and conversations with the tribal communities, we waited from the mid of February till April when the tree usually starts blooming for a period of about 2-3 weeks.  But this year it resulted in an unending wait. 


Which regions are our observations recorded from

In Deopada, near Neral, the flowering is barely 5-7% of its usual flowering this year. It's a surprise, considering the Mahua is the resilient mother tree of the Sahyadri forest, mentions Ambi bai who is an experienced forager and observer of the Mahua tree for many decades in the region. If this tree is getting affected, you can only imagine what might be the plight of other trees in the forest and crops in the region.


Gaurang taking a look at the Mahua flowers at Chandrapada in Palghar District of Maharashtra
Gaurang taking a look at the Mahua flowers at Chandrapada in Palghar District of Maharashtra

Seeking Answers From the Forest Keepers

We travelled to Chandrapada in Palghar, hoping for better news. But the Warli women, seasoned foragers with generations of knowledge, were just as confused.  We spoke at length with Surekha Danane amongst other elders in their 60s - who said they have never witnessed such a thing –  not enough Mahua flowers even for their own families, let alone to share with the wider world.


A Plea from the Forest

There can be a few reasons like climate change, increasing pollution, the tribals seem to be contemplating. There's a sense that this goes even deeper.  This isn't just about us missing out on Mahua flowers this season. It's a warning, a plea from the forest itself, telling us that the delicate balance of nature might be breaking.


A Question We Must Answer

We're putting this out there to the wider community: have you noticed a similar decline of Mahua blossoms in your region?  Have you heard any explanations for this strange phenomenon?  Share your observations with us. Together, maybe we can start to understand this worrisome shift and support the communities who rely on the Mahua all year long.


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