Neelakurinji (Strobilanthus kunthiana)

is a shrub that used to grow abundantly in the shola grasslands of the Western Ghats in South India above 1800 metres. The Nilgiri Hills, which literally means the blue mountains, got their name from the purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji that blossoms gregariously only once in 12 years. The Paliyan tribal people apparently used it to calculate their age.

Neelakurinji is the best known of a genus, Strobilanthes, that has flowering cycles ranging from one to 16 years. Plants that bloom at long intervals like kurinji are called plietesials. The genus has around 300 species, of which at least 46 occur in India. Besides the Western Ghats, Neelakurinji is seen in the Shevroys in the Eastern Ghats. It occurs at an altitude of 1300 to 2400 metres. The plant is usually 30 to 60 cm high on the hills. They can, however, grow well beyond 180 cm under congenial conditions.


They 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. In 2006, Neelakurunji flowered again in Tamil Nadu and Kerala after a gap of 12 years. Apart from Nilgris, Neelakurinji grow in grass lands of Eravikulam, hills between Klavarai in Tamil Nadu and Vattavada, near Munnar in Kerala during the season from August to December. Kurinji has again flowered in some parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.


Kurinjimala Sanctuary protects the kurinji approximately 32 kmĀ² core habitat of the endangered Neelakurinji plant in Kottakamboor and Vattavada villages in Devakulam Taluk, Idukki district of Kerala, The Save Kurinji Campaign Council organises campaigns and programmes for conservation of the Kurinji plant and its habit.

© Save Kurinji Campaign Council- Trivandrum - Kerala 2010