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ative elliptic Photo: Rajan Medhekar
Common name: Kurinji, Kurunji, Neelakurinji • Hindi: कुरिंजी Kurinji • Kannada: ಕುರಿಂಜಿ Kurinji • Tamil: நீலக்குரிஞ்சி Neelakkurinji
Botanical name: Strobilanthes kunthiana    Family: Acanthaceae (Acanthus family)
Synonyms: Ruellia kunthiana, Phlebophyllum kunthianum, Phlebophyllum angustifolium

Kurniji is the famous flower which makes the Neelgiri hills blue. Kurinji is a bright blue bell-shaped flower found on the hill slopes of the Western Ghats at an altiltude between 6000 to 7000 feet. The unique feature of this flower is that it blooms once in 12 years! The species name kunthiana has been derived from the River Kunthi which flows through the rich expanse of the renowned Silent Valley National Park in Kerala. Kurinji flower normally grows on the hill slopes where there is little or no tree forest. It is a tall, bushy, shrub with branches reddish, hairless. Leaves are up to 6 x 3 cm, elliptic, hairless above, leathery. Flowers are borne in spikes 3-5 cm long, cylindric, 2-5 on flower-cluster-stalks in leaf-axils; involucral bracts 2-3, elliptic, woolly; floral bracts 12 x 4 mm, ovate-tapering, tawny velvet-hairy; bracteoles 7 x 1.5 mm, linear-lanceshaped. Flowers are many; calyx 1 cm long, sepals tapering; flower 2.5 cm long, blue, hairy. Nilgiri means blue mountains and it is suggested that the gregarious flowering of the blue flowered S. kunthiana gave the hills their name. In the picture above, a blue Kurinji covered hill is seen.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Tamil Nadu.

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