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Strobilanthes Kunthiana

Strobilanthes Kunthiana

Context:

Recently, the experts have warned that the iconic flora native to the Nilgiris, including more than 30 species of Strobilanthes, could be under threat of being displaced with the continuing advance of invasive flora such as Cestrum aurantiacum and Lantana Camara.

Strobilanthes Kunthiana:

  • It is a rare plant that grows mainly in the shola grasslands of the Western Ghats in India.
  • The mass blooming of the Strobilanthes kunthiana, known commonly as the neelakurinji, gave the Nilgiris (the Blue Mountains) its iconic name.
  • Neelakurinji plant was first seen in the vicinity of the Kunthi River.
  • The Kurinjimala Sanctuary was made in Munnar exclusively to protect the Neelakurinji plants.
  • The habitat of the Strobilanthes plants in the upper Nilgiris is being eroded by the Cestrum aurantiacum and they are also threatened by other invasive species like Lantana Camara in the lower slopes.

The Kunthi River:

  • It is located in Kerala and flows through the Silent Valley National Park.
  • It is a tributary of the river Thuthapuzha, which is in turn one of the main tributaries of the Bharathapuzha River, the second-longest river in Kerala.
  • This river is mainly used by the people of Mannarkkad taluk of Palakkad district.
  • This river is known for the story of the bathing of Kunthi Devi, the mother of Pandavas. 

Lantana Camara:

  • It is a small perennial shrub, which forms extensive, dense, and impenetrable thickets.
  • It is a highly variable ornamental shrub, a native of the neotropics.
  • It is native to Central and South America but its original distribution is unclear due to the introduction of a number of ornamental varieties.
  • It is an invasive species that was introduced in tropical regions as an ornamental plant (introduced in India in 1807).
  • It is generally deleterious to biodiversity and has been reported as an agricultural weed resulting in large economic losses.

Cestrum Aurantiacum:

  • It is also known as Orange Cestrum.
  • It is native to North and South America.
  • It is an evergreen, half-climbing shrub reaching 10 ft tall.

Source: The Hindu