Neela Kurinji plants

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Context:

  • Tamil Nadu government has announced a Scheme for the protection of exotic Neelakurinji (Strobilanthus kunthianus) plants that flower only once in 12 years.
  • This scheme comes following complaints that these rare and ecologically unique flowers are being packaged and sold on the commercial basis.

About the Neelakurinji plant:

  • Neelakurinji is a tropical plant species. 
  • It is native to the Shola forests in Western Ghats.
  • It is also seen in Shevroys Hills in Eastern Ghats, Anamalai hills and Agali hills in Kerala and Sanduru hills in Karnataka.
  • It grows at an height of 30 to 60 cm on hills slopes at an altitude of 1300 to 2400 meters where there is no tree forest.
  • The flowers of Neelakurinji are purple-blue in colour and blooms once in 12 years. 
  • The flower has no smell or any medicinal value.
  • It is because of these flowers, Nilgiri hills on the southern tip of Western Ghats are called blue mountains.
  • It is a rarest of rare plant species that grows in Western Ghats and does not grow in any other part of the world.
  • It has been categorized as an endangered species. 
  • In ancient Tamil literature, Kurinji flowers symbolize love.
  • Paliyan tribal people living in Tamil Nadu use this flower bloom as a reference to calculate their age.

Source: India Today & Wiki