Page last updated at 11:10 GMT, Monday, 25 August 2008 12:10 UK

Flower that takes years to bloom

By Prachi Pinglay
BBC News, Mumbai

The Karvy flower
Some varieties take up to 14 years to bloom

A flower which blooms only every eight to 10 years is attracting nature lovers to the outskirts of the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay).

The bright purple Karvy will cover many forest areas with a colourful veil once it is in full blossom.

The plant grows to a height of up to eight feet. It is mainly found in the low hills along the west coast.

Juice from the flower is used for medicinal purposes and the stems are used for thatched buildings.


The Karvy (Strobilanthes callosus or Carvia Callosa) blooms between July and September. But it takes nearly a decade for the bloom cycle to happen.

Dr V Shubhalaxmi from the Bombay Natural History Society says different varieties have different blooming periods - some even ranging up to 14 years.

Local businessman Julius Rego travelled for nearly two hours to see the Karvy. "It is not just the flowers but the entire landscape," he says.

"Several insects, butterflies, bees, are attracted to this flower and one gets to see so many more varieties at this time. To sit amid these flowers for some time gives such joy."

The flowers are an experience for the ears as well as the eyes.

"If you visit the region after flowering, which will continue for over a month, you will witness... popping sounds," Dr Shubhalaxmi says.

After flowering, the shrub is covered with fruits which absorb moisture and burst open with a pop.

The leaves are home to caterpillars, snails and several other insects.

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