Gregarious Kurniji is the famous flower which makes the Neelgirihills blue. Kurinji is a bright blue bell-shaped flower found on the hill slopes of the Western Ghats at an altiltude between 6000 to 7000 feet.
The unique feature of this flower is that it blooms once in 12 years! The species name kunthiana has been derived from the River Kunthi which flows through the rich expanse of the renowned Silent Valley National Park in Kerala. Kurinji flower normally grows on the hill slopes where there is little or no tree forest. It is a tall, bushy, shrub which sometimes may grow to a height of eight to ten feet.
when it blooms, which is once in 12 years, the entire bush is covered with bright blue flowers. Robinson (1935) recorded a twelve year flowering cycle for this species from the Nilgiri Hills between 1826 and 1934, based on the diaries of one of the earliest European families to settle in the Hills.
Kurinji once used to cover the Nilgiri Hills and Palani Hills like a carpet during its flowering season. Now plantations and dwellings occupy much of their habitat. Besides the Western Ghats, Neelakurinji is also seen in the Shevroys in the Eastern Ghats, some parts of Idukki and sandur hills of Bellary district in Karnataka. In 2006, Neelakurunji flowered again in Kerala and Tamil Nadu after a gap of 12 years. Thereafter, the Strobilanthes cuspidatus species of Kurinji flowers were found blooming in 2016 in Udhagamandalam near a major road.
In August 2008, a group of plants at Thalakkulam, about 35 km from Munnar, flowered on a hill by the side of the Kochi-Madurai National Highway. The next flowering here will be in 2020 if the seedlings survive the onslaught of human interference.
Stray flowerings of kurinji do occur annually towards the end of the 12-year flowering cycle. A few plants here and there may throw up an inflorescence while the other plants remain without flowers. What triggers the massive flowering every 12 years is not known. However, here is an explanation for why they flower only once in 12 years.
kurinji has been documented for 180 years. The first records of ten consecutive flowerings from 1826 to 1934 were published in the Journal of the Bombay Natural History (Vol. 38) by Mrs. Morrison.However, references in the Tamil Sangham literature (200 B. C.-300 A. D.) suggest that kurinji used to flower for hundreds of years.
Department of Posts Honoured Gregarious flower Kurinji by releasing a commemorative postage stamp
Issued Date : 29. 05.2006