Neelakurinji: when will it flower?
NeelakurinjiGregarious 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 flowering 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 weather.

Thus, after the 2006 flowering, another mass flowering can be expected to 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 (Vol. 38) by Mrs. Morrison.However, references in the Tamil Sangham literature (200 B. C.-300 A. D.) suggest that kurinji used to flower for hundreds of years.

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