As the year draws to a close, the Pacific finds itself being crossed from east to west by weather disturbances that give rise to typhoons, which then dash themselves into the many eastern coasts of Asia, from the southeast, to Taiwan and China, to Japan. That last country has seen its fair share of storms in the latter part of 2018 as is accustomed to by its residents (“typhoon” after all comes from the Chinese “Tai Fung” and Japanese “Tai Fuu”, “great wind”). But the last two storms to visit Japan have been so strong that they managed to “trick” local nature into “starting early”.
By that is meant that cherry blossom trees in Japan have started to bloom their world-famous “Sakura” flowers, way before spring which comes the following year according to ABS-CBN News. Granted, such phenomenon has been known to occur according to Flower Association of Japan senior official Toru Koyama, but this is the first time that it has happened on a national scale in recent memory. Now, cherry blossoms are coloring their trees a vibrant pink some six months ahead of their appointed time. This is thanks apparently to the typhoons that lashed the vegetation there.
The explanation for this out-of-season bloom is that a Sakura tree would begin develop its buds for next year’s blossoming in the current year’s summer; however hormones released by the tree leaves prevent the buds from growing, with the cold of winter taking over up until the summer thaws. The typhoons that struck Japan recently had stripped many cherry blossom trees of their leaves, cutting down the inhibiting hormone. And when storms brought a blend of warm sunny weather to colder temperatures – similar to spring conditions – the buds were then tricked into going into bloom.
The Flower Association of Japan has estimated that about 350 sightings of out-of-season bloom have been reported to them in the middle of autumn in the country. That figure is remarkably small compared to the rush of so many people in the actual spring bloom period, the centerpiece of the Japanese cultural tradition of “Hanami” or “flower viewing”. As it stands, only sharp observers would have noticed the phenomenon, and it will not last very long either. Still, such aberrations to the regular biological clocks of organisms as a result of extremely strong weather patterns once again brings to mind the growing environmentalist concerns regarding global warming and greenhouse effects.
Image courtesy of Huffington Post