Friday, September 21, 2012

Kurinji, the Twelve year Wonder of the Western Ghats

 Some of the hills in the Nilagiri part of the Western Ghats are draped in a blue haze. The mass flowering of the Kurinji flowers Strobilanthes kunthiana is at its height on grassy hills near Ooty now.Whole hillsidesare covered in these perfumed wild flowers now. The Kurini flowers once in twelve years, and flowers profusely. Populations of the Kurinji in different sites may have different calendars, but the length of the flowering cycle is the same.
Strobilanthes belongs to the family of Acanthaceae. Plants that flower after long intervals are called Plietesials. According to one hypothesis for this kind of behaviour in plants is that  they exhibit 'Predator satiation'. It is a strategy developed by these monocarpic plants  so that the abundance of floral 'prey' will satiate the insect predators. You can read more about his hypothesis here.http://www.hindu.com/seta/2006/06/15/stories/2006061500421700.h
The plants reckoned without the human predator, it seems. The Kurinji land is now Tea land, with hectares of tea plantations coming up in their habitat. To see these flowers yesterday, we had to walk through a tea plantation and clamber up a rocky outcrop. Our little guide Santosh is holding out a posy of Kurinji flowers for me in this picture.
Kurinji flowers are a symbol of yearning and love in ancient Tamil literature. The plant was first studied and described to the western world by the German botanist Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck . The name' kunthiana' is from the river Kunthi which flows through the southern part of the Western Ghats.

12 comments:

  1. What a stunning sight that must have been! The flowers are beautiful...I've read about the flowers and the twelve year period but wasn't aware of the stories associated with Kurinji. Lovely post and hats off to you...going there and even clambering up a rocky outcrop to get these shots!

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  2. What an interesting and beautiful flower. Twelve years is a long, long time so seeing them in bloom must be such a treat.

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  3. Very beautiful flowers and I love the shade of that color.

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  4. How interesting to see these flowers only once in 12years. They are so beautiful and for us people from the northern European countries, so exotic.
    Thanks for showing them and telling about them.

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  5. Wow. I envy you. You are so lucky to see the kurunji blooms!

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  6. It has a beautiful shade of purple. 12 years is a long wait but it the lovely blossoms are sweet reward.

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  7. Really amazing and beautiful flowers. These flowers seem to be exotic flowers. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. beautiful, did you get to see it and take these pictures ?

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  9. these flowers looking so special and beautiful.

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  10. I live in Tamilnadu and have known about the kurinji flowers and their 12 year flowering period... But the information you have given in this post about these flowers is new to me... amazing flowers indeed.

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  11. Thanks for the information... I really love your blog posts... specially those on Herbal Medicine India

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