Neelakurinji: when will it flower?
Gregarious flowering of neelakurinji (Strobilanthes
kunthiana) takes place once in 12 years between July and December. The peak season will
be between August and September. Local variations are possible. (It
flowers earlier in some areas of Kodaikanal.)
As there are different species of kurinjis with different
cycles, blooms are seen at varying intervals. P. K.
Uthaman (then field publicity officer of Government of India) has
reported seeing eight species of Strobilanthes bloom at Eravikulam
National Park in 1988. It is also possible that the same species in
different localities may complete their flowering cycles in different
years. However, the flowering cycle for a particular species remains the
same, but for variations of a few months triggered possibly by local
Thus, after the 2006 flowering, another mass flowering can be expected
take place near Munnar in 2014-- there is a group of plants in the
locality whose flowering cycle is four years ahead of the rest of the
community in the region. However, one could not be sure whether these plants would survive for the next season. The next massive flowering in the Nilgiris-Palanis-Munnar belt is expected only in 2018.
In August 2008, a group of plants at Thalakkulam, about 35 km from
Munnar, flowered on a hill by the side of the Kochi-Madurai National
Highway. The next flowering here will be in 2020 if the seedlings
survive the onslaught of human interference.
Stray flowerings of kurinji do occur annually towards the end of the
12-year flowering cycle. A few plants here and
there may throw up an inflorescence while the other plants remain
without flowers. What triggers the
massive flowering every 12 years is not known. However, here
is an explanation for why they flower only once in 12 years.
Gregarious flowering of kurinji has been documented for 180 years. The
first records of ten consecutive flowerings from 1826 to 1934 were
published in the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society (1936, Vol. 38) by
M. E. Robinson.However, references in the Tamil Sangham literature (200
B. C.-300 A. D.) suggest that kurinji used to flower for hundreds of