Tamil Nadu government has announced Scheme for protection of exotic Neela kurinji (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.
Neelakurinji is a tropical plant species. It is native to 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 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 in southern tip of Western Ghats are called blue mountains. It is 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 endangered species. In ancient Tamil literature, kurinji flowers symbolize love. Paliyan tribal people living in Tamil Nadu use this flower bloom as reference to calculate their age.