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Neelakurinji Flower under Severe Threat

Neelakurinji Flower under Severe Threat

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  • GS3 || Environment || Biodiversity || Plant Diversity

Why In News?

Experts fear that for next season, the Neelakurinji blossoms may not carpet the hillocks of the Western Ghats in a ravishing purple.

Neelakurinji

  • Kurinji or Neelakurinji (Strobilantheskunthianus) 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 Neelakurinjithat 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 (Strobilantheskunthiiana) 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.
  • In the proposed Kurinji sanctuary, there were encroachments and land grabbers wanted to keep the area off the limits of the sanctuary.

 Additional References

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/blaze-that-may-have-eaten-up-the-purple-of-the-hills/article26756010.ece

 Mains Question

What are the Threats to Neelakurinji?