Birthday celebration in presence of a very rare flower

Written By Amol Kokane on Sunday, November 21, 2021 | 5:47 PM

I am sure that reading the title of this post, you all must be thinking, why I have written a post about birthday celebration on a Nature-related blogs channel. But yesterday was a special celebration and somehow we just managed to relate it with nature too.

It was my younger son's birthday yesterday. Like usual, we had it all planned in a typical homely-way of celebrations. That includes, celebrating with family at lunch and then in the evening, celebrating with birthday boy's friends. So, everything was planned.

On an evening 1-day before the birthday, I got a call from my dear friend & famous naturalist, Mr. Mayuresh Kulkarni (an Orchid man). He told me about the story of how he spotted a very rare flower in blossom; that too while on a family trip to Mahabaleshwar. I knew that more than anything he was trying to ignite an idea in my mind to visit the place and see the lifer flower. In my mind I had a desire to see the flower but at the same time I was like let's do it next week. In the end, he just added that some flowers have already started withering and it will be end of season soon.

That last statement of his did a perfect job of "lighting the fuse". The reason is, the flower that we were discussing is a very rare one because it blooms once in 12 years. So if I miss it this time, I got to wait for it for next 12 years.

It did not take much time for me to rope in a new last-minute plan in all the birthday celebration plans that we had. We had time till noon on the birthday. We decided to keep it a very simple in-and-out plan. The distance to Mahabaleshwar from my place is 125km, that's around 3hrs journey. So we decided to start early, reach the place, search for the flower, take photos of it, start the return journey immediately and reach home by noon. That's it. No halts, no breaks in between either way.

And we executed it to perfection. Though the start was slightly delayed as we overslept because a few of my son's friends dropped in at midnight with a cake and we could not sleep early.

Well, I talked so much about the planning... but here is something about the flower,

The name of the flower is Pitted Coneflower (Strobilanthes scrobiculatus). All varieties of Strobilanthes are commonly known as Karavi (कारवी) flowers. The Pitted Coneflower is one of the beautiful varieties of Karavi flower. Many species of Strobilanthes do not bloom every year and the gap between flowering years makes these flowers very rare, special and a visual treat for watchers like me. I am not sure if the studies are done to find out why there is such a long gap in flowering years. These flowers typically can be seen on steep rocky cliffs of Western Ghats.

Following are the close-ups of the flower,

Top view of Strobilanthes scrobiculatus

Side view of Strobilanthes scrobiculatus flower with a twig and leaves

and whey they bloom in abundance the area (including valleys and cliffs) is filled with blue looks like this,

After spending enough time with Karavi flowers, I just did a quick check around the region. Saw wild-flowers like Purple Witchweed (Striga gesnerioides), बंबाकू in Marathi and Canscora (Canscora diffusa), किलवर in Marathi and few others. But sticking to the plan, I did not spend time taking photos of those. At the spot, we, just the 4 of us, celebrated a quick birthday by feeding a cake to the birthday boy. And that's it, we started our return journey.

In the morning while we were driving towards the final spot, it was an amazing experience. We experienced a dense fog as soon as we started driving up-hill towards Panchgani and it continued till we reached the final spot. Last 10-15kms were awesome. It was a small road through woods and dense fog, birds chirping, zero traffic. Our final spot was one of the sightseeing points in Mahabaleshwar. Because we reached there so early, there was not a single human being around other than 4 of us. It could not have got more personalized than that, no crowd at one of the sightseeing points in a famous hill station and that too on a long weekend.

Seeing a flower that blooms once in 12 years on the occasion of my son celebrating his 12th birthday... a purely all-time memorable experience for all of us! I must thank Mayuresh for "lighting the fuse", so that we could experience such a moment. During return journey, when asked about today's experience to him, my son said being just 4 of us in a dense fog was kind of creepy but it was the best birthday celebrated so far.

That's it, we returned back on time and continued with our homely-way of celebrations as planned earlier.

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