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Nature and Science 2010-04-02 Forest China Part 10 - The Bamboo Forest 2

04-02-2010 11:08 BJT

By noon, the mist has dispersed.

The cramer butterfly's villi are complex detectors. They can capture the smell of a female cramer butterfly and guide it towards her.

In spring, the Chinese stump-tailed macaques move to high-altitude broad-leaf forests. But the smell of the bamboo shoots draws them down again into the valleys.

The Chinese stump-tailed macaque has a surprisingly good appetite. In a single day it eats the equivalent of a third of its body weight.

A young bamboo shoot is forced out of the competition before it can enjoy the vernal sunshine.

In the evening, the faint smell leads the cramer butterfly to a village on the edge of the forest. It has only 20 days left to mate.

The unpredictable wind brings intermittent drizzle.

The leaves of the Herklots Cane bamboo are a common ingredient in traditional Chinese desserts. They give off a faint fragrance when boiled.

The spring trickles down the valley, creating the ideal conditions for the damesflies to lay their eggs.

The best season for the bamboo shoots has arrived. They can grow by a meter in a single day. They are on the point of entering adulthood.

The bamboo shoot has become fully grown in terms of its height and diameter. From now on it won??t grow any taller or sturdier, only stronger.

The Bamboo Forest

But the bamboo remains vulnerable to breaking in high winds because of the large amount of water it contains and the lack of sufficient fiber tissues between its knots.

In Chinese literature throughout the centuries, bamboo has been endowed with a number of qualities; a resolute spirit in the face of adversity, steadfastness, and modesty. Overall, it is regarded as the most righteous of plants.

In a matter of a few weeks, bamboo can grow to a height it would take a tree several decades to achieve. Their great ability to reproduce and grow creates a strong bond with humans. After 5 or 6 years they can be cut down, and will soon appear at county fairs in various guises.

The drizzle prevents the cramer butterfly from making the trip it has planned. It has gone without food for several days, ever since leaving the bamboo.

In late May, the wind comes from the southwest. It brings with it dense clouds from the East China Sea.

The moist air signals to the spider that it should spin its web. The hot days compel the insects to fly low, presenting the spider with a good chance to catch some food.

In the morning, the sun shines on the wings of the butterfly through the moist air. The beads of moisture mean a storm is brewing. After a month in flight, it has achieved nothing. Now the low pressure is demanding more energy every time it spreads its wings. Can it find a mate before it dies?

After more than 40 days of rapid growth, the bamboo has reached the roof of the forest. This is the end of the competition, as a new life enjoys the vernal breeze.

The wind travels through the dense bamboo, bringing a familiar smell to the cramer butterfly's sensitive villi. Though weak by now, it spreads its wings and sets off, helped by the wind.

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