The vegetation in Nagarhole reflects the distribution of rainfall over the park. The eastern parts of the park receive less rainfall with a gradual increase to the middle and western parts of the park. The two broad forest types that dominate the park are the moist-deciduous, where the annual rainfall exceeds 1000mm and dry-deciduous where the rainfall is lower. Substantial areas were clear felled and monocultures of teak were raised. Where these plantations failed, secondary forests have taken over.
There are also various microhabitat types such as hadlus, which are shallow clayey valley bottoms that contain swamp savannas and short grass clearings or veiwlines created to facilitate game viewing for the tourists.
A dam was built across the Kabini, creating a huge lake with Giant Bamboo dominating the river banks. During the dry season, water is let out for irrigation and the lake dries out leaving only the main river visible. The resulting open plain supports an abundance of fresh grass more reminiscent of African savanna than tropical India. This unique microhabitat has proved to be a boon for the park, providing fresh grass when the rest of the park is drying out.
Bamboo (Bambusa Arundica)
The Giant Bamboo plant grows throughout the Western Ghats and is the favourite ‘cuisine’ of the wild elephants here.
This plant only flowers once in 50 years! Following this, it transforms into bamboo rice, an exotic variety of rice that costs a whopping Rs. 2000 per kg! This rice is known for its healing effects, being used to treat hypertension, ulcers, sinusitis, severe cough and cold. The plant forms a key ingredient of many a dish such as pickles and bamboo curry.
Incidentally, the Giant Bamboo, which is the tallest in the grass family, dies shortly after flowering.