Throughout the north-eastern region of India, the Broom Grass is a common sight. They are more noticeable during winter when the blooms (inflorescences) turn from a light shade of green to almost purple. You can see the purple haze here with the lantana, a common weed in tropical countries.
The Broom Grass/Thysanolaena maxima is also known as the Bouquet Grass and Tiger Grass. It belongs to the family Poaceae. They’re mostly found on hill slopes, on steep ravines and on the sandy banks of rivers. And due to this, soil erosion is kept on check. They grow in large tufts and can reach the height of 3 m or so.The roots of the broom grass go really deep. Regeneration is through seeds which mature in February/March.
Majority of the households in our country (and in Asia) use the broom for sweeping the floors. A good broom must bend like the bamboo and be able to sweep corners! Which is why the time chosen to pick the broom must be just right. Mature but not beyond that. Or the broom will be brittle and will break in little pieces whenever it is used.
In winter after the panicles are collected, they are loosely tied up and dried in the sun. Then they are tightly bound and sold in the markets. The bamboo-like leaves are used for fodder and the woody stems for fuel. This is a forest produce that provides local employment. The broom grass is also a tool for the reclamation of wastelands. Apart from checking soil erosion, the plant can also thrive in harsh conditions.
The above picture was taken in January when the landscape is dry. Even some banana trees die during this season but the Broom Grass still manages to put on a smile:)
As kids we used to play on the slopes of the hill from where I stood to take this shot. It was long before the new house (on the left) came up and the whole area was a jungle. The roof you see on the right with the huge litchee tree is from colonial times. We lived for some years in this vicinity with a ravishing view of the hills of Haflong. I love these hills so much that I’ve got them on my header too!All tied up and drying in the sun. These were on the roof of a hut next to a paddy (rice) field. This was taken on the way to the Ethnic Village (a popular picnic spot) in my hometown. The photo below is of a man who was busy in the jungle.
What are you here for?
Oh, I’m gathering broom grass.
Mind if I take your picture?
Please! Go ahead. (Poses with a big smile).
Thanks. We’re off. I hope you’ll be able to gather enough to make several brooms. Bye.
I hope so too. Bye!