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Why She Plucked This Beautiful Flower from the Tree?

31 March 2010

Spring arrives, and Bombax flowers once again bloomed, rendering the land of Yunnan Province with flaming red. But not for long; not in this spring. They were soon cut or snapped from branches, leaving the trees utterly naked.

The fate of the flowers after they were torn away from their birthplace is not what you might think. They did not find a new home in a vase, but were tortured in sizzling oil and stir-fried into dishes. The rest you should be able to figure out: their final resting place will not be a peaceful and harmonious domain.

As flowers they are beautiful but as edible herb they by no means to be delicious. Then why people in rural Yunnan still prefer to consume them with their mouth instead of appreciating them with they eyes? They have no choice, according to the local reports. To many thirsty villages in Yunnan Province, these flowers are only things available for them to make dishes to go with plain rice, since there is nothing left for them to collect in their dried vegetable gardens.

The woman in the picture has a three generation family and needs to search around the hills for the flowers every other day. Often she leaves home with a basket on her back in the morning and wouldn't be able to return home until afternoon - all these hard labour just for the sake of getting one herb dish for her entire family.

And she’s not alone. So many villagers rely on the wild herb as the only source of vegetable, which makes her flower-gathering job harder by the day.

The disaster did not occur overnight. The area hasn't got a decent rain since last August. But during the National People's Congress meeting which took place only a few weeks earlier, no attention was paid to and no bills were tabled over the issue. Is that very odd?

The following facts may shed some light on the question: Just when some rural people swallow bitter herbs as their daily meals, and walk miles to get their water rations, in its provincial capital city Kunming, the urban folks are still allowed to hose their cars, and the dubious industry of Turkish-style bath palours dotted the town are still booming.

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