Scheme for protection of exotic Neela kurinji plants

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    29th Sep, 2018

Context

  • Tamil Nadu government has announced a scheme for protection of the endemic Neela kurinji (Strobilanthus kunthianus) plants.
  • The scheme is aimed at restraining tourists from hampering Kurinji plants and collecting its flowers as mementos.
  • As per the guidelines, people caught plucking flowers would be fined Rs. 5000.

About

  • Neel Kurinji or Kurinji (Stobilanthes Kunthianus) is a shrub generally found in many parts of the various south Indian hills.
  • Nilgiri Hills, which literally means the blue mountains, got their name from the purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji that blossoms only once in 12 years.
  • Kurinji grows at an altitude of 1300 to 2400 metres. The plant is usually 30 to 60 cm high. They can, however, grow well beyond 180 cm under congenial conditions.
  • 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.
  • Muthuvans, an adivasi tribe of Mullar hills of Kerala consider Neelkunjira sacred. They believe their god, Lord Murugan, married Devi using a garland made with these flowers.
  • Kurinji Andavar temple located in Kodaikanal , tamil Nadu dedicated to Hindu God Kartikeya also preserves this plant.
  • Habitat: Kurinji is found in :
    a. Western Ghats
    b. Shevaroys in the Eastern Ghats,
    c. Anamalai hills, Agali hills in Kerala
    d. Sanduru hills of Bellary district in Karnataka
  • Threat of habitat destruction: Neel Kurinjionce used to cover the Nilgiri Hills and Palani Hills like a carpet during its flowering season. Now plantations and dwellings occupy much of their habitat. Tourists have been found to be plucking and damaging the plant. Forest fires are also threat for these rare endemic plants

Significance

Neelkunjira is an endemic species of immense importance. Introduced scheme is expected to help in protection and conversation of the plant. Schemes like these also contribute in raising awareness about growing human threats to the plants and biodiversity.

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