Actually, the farmlands extend into the major cities we saw as well. Every acre of arable
land is used, usually for rice production. Since there is a limited amount of land that
can be effectively productive, none of it is wasted, no matter if it is right alongside the
airport runway in Paro or on empty lots in the capital city, Thimphu. Red rice and sticky
rice are the staple food of the Bhutanese, so it consumes the most land.
Many of the flowers were familiar to us and that was another surprising discovery. So we
saw lots of marigolds, bougainvillea, periwinkles, trumpet vines, hibiscus, pansies,
petunias, zinnias, and rhododendrons. Fruits were also mostly familiar to us: guavas,
apples, bananas, persimmons, oranges, and pomegranates. The national tree is the
cypress but it did not resemble our bald cypresses at all. Magnolias are also a ubiquitous
tree, but again, they did not look like our southern magnolia in any way.
The primeval, virgin forests that carpet all the foothills and mountains forming the valleys
are so dense and uniform in height that there are just the little bumps here and there so
that the whole resembles nothing so much as broccoli heads and flowers. There are some
differences in the types of forests depending on elevations and soils. Some forests are
almost tropical, looking like Amazonian rain forest trees. Others are reminiscent of US
southern forests with a grandfather’s beard, a moss-like growth, dangling from the
branches. Still others are filled with cedars and other boreal type trees.
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