It is a rare species of flowers which blooms once in 12 years. It is a shrub that is found in the shola forests of the Western Ghats in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Its scientific name is Strobilanthes kunthiana. Locally known as Kurinji, the flowers grow at an altitude of 1,300 to 2,400 metres. Around 46 varieties of Neelakurinji flowers have been identified in India and each blooms at intervals of 6, 9, 12 or 16 years.
Nilgiri Hills got their name from the purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji. The Paliyan tribal people living in Tamil Nadu used it as a reference to calculate their age.