From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Neelakurinji
Mains level : Read the attached story
As visitors keep pouring in to witness the blooming of neelakurinji on a vast area on the Kallippara hills at Santhanpara in Idukki, Kerala, an expert team has identified six varieties of the plant across the region.
- Kurinji or Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthianus) is a shrub that is found in the shola forests of the Western Ghats in South India.
- Nilgiri Hills, which literally means the blue mountains, got their name from the purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji that blossoms only once in 12 years.
- It is the most rigorously demonstrated, with documented bloomings in 1838, 1850, 1862, 1874, 1886, 1898, 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006 and 2018
- Some Kurinji flowers bloom once every seven years, and then die. Their seeds subsequently sprout and continue the cycle of life and death.
- The Paliyan tribal people living in Tamil Nadu used it as a reference to calculate their age.
Threats to Neelakurinji
- About 1,000 ha of forestland, grantis and eucalyptus plantations and grasslands have been destroyed in the fire.
- These large-scale wildfires on the grasslands where Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiiana) blossomed widely last year after a period of 12 years could have wiped out all the seeds of the endemic flowers.
- There are allegations that the areas coming under the proposed Kurinji sanctuary were set on fire with a motive to destroy the germination of Neelakurinji seeds.