Va Va Broom!!

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.

Hello!

Hello!

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!

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About Kanak Hagjer

Hello from north-east India! I love to blog about all things floral and foliar and sharing the beauty of my region is what I am most passionate about!
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14 Responses to Va Va Broom!!

  1. Rosie says:

    We have a native shrub called broom rather than a grass. How interesting to read about all the uses that the grass is. It really has a purple haze in that first photo and looks so soft and tactile.

  2. Mildred says:

    Hi Kanak, What an interesting post. This just fascinates me that this has so many uses. I love the purple color. Thank you so much for the lovely pictures.

    • kanak7 says:

      Mildred, there was picture that you absolutely loved on my post titled Blooms From My Cousin’s Place. There the grass blooms were tender and there was no hint of purple.

  3. lotusleaf says:

    I have seen a grass similar to this in Orissa. The brooms made from the grass you have shown are the best. I always wondered where the grass came from! Very interesting and informative post. Thank you.

    • kanak7 says:

      Padma, glad to read this! I’ve read that many villages in our neighbouring states are employed in this cottage industry. It’s wonderful to know that this region is a major supplier of brooms to the rest of the country.

  4. andrea says:

    Hi Kanak, i think we have that grass here too, although they are growing in hotter temperatures than yours.

  5. joey says:

    So enjoy visiting, Kanak. My daughter’s dear friend (and my surrogate daughter) from India was with us at the lake over the long holiday weekend. I showed her your site, proud to share you as my treasured gardening friend 🙂

  6. Susie says:

    You always have such interesting info Kanak. I like your slope. I bet you can still see yourself as a child there playing.

    • kanak7 says:

      Susie, oh yes! In January I made it a point to visit the area. The house we lived in (not ours, but the council’s) was in shambles. And there were structures obstructing my much-loved view:( But the loveliest memories did come back….

  7. Stephanie says:

    They use this kind of hand broom (no stick) in Nepal also right? They have to bend down to sweep the floor. The brooms that I use here all have a stick attached ( I still use broom!). I cannot get use to vacuum cleaner. Thanks for the weed turn broom facts here. I enjoyed reading this post very much 😀

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