Flowers aren’t always pretty, and they can be quite shocking, too — in a good or bad way. There are the boring and the colorful flowers, plus the ones that don’t look acceptable at all, just like when you see the uninviting smiles of a Venus Flytrap.
But there’s a flower that’ll be nice enough to meet you or maybe kiss you with its luscious red lips. These lips belong to a plant with the scientific name Psychotria Elata, commonly known as the Hooker’s lips. Yes, you’ve read it right.
These aren’t from Angelina Jolie nor Mick Jagger, but from a plant that belongs to the 2000 species of the Psychotria genus plants, which are the flowering plants of the Rubiaceae family. This genus is even known to produce psychedelic chemicals like dimethyltryptamine. It’s funny to know that this plant contains something psychedelic that matches its seductive look.
Just like an attractive woman with lips so red you can’t resist looking, the Hooker’s lips pucker up to attract pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds.
The truth is, the red lips you see on the Hooker’s lips aren’t the flowers themselves but just the kissable bracts that remain only for a short time until they reveal the plant’s white flowers that’ll emerge from their center. Its fruits are oval berries that turn blue or black when mature. It also acts as a host plant for the golden silkmoth (Xlophanes Adalia).
It’s a bit difficult to grow Psychotria Elata because of certain climatic conditions that you should replicate for the plant. First, make sure you can effectively provide a warm, humid, and moist climate. Then, you’ll need to place it in a sheltered environment, unexposed to the harsh sun rays, as this can have an adverse effect on the growth of the plant.
Even though the name “Hooker’s lips” can be a bit inappropriate, especially if you want to give it as an admirable gift, the people of Central America actually consider this plant as the perfect gift every Valentine’s day and other occasions. They buy it for their friends and family to express their love.
Besides its use as a Valentine gift in Central America, the Hooker’s lips has its own health benefits as well. People from Central America use the barks and leaves of the plant for treating skin rashes, coughs, and earaches. Moreover, the Ngäbe-Buglé and Kuna Native Indians in Panama use this plant for treating dyspnea.
The Hooker’s lips can be found in the rain forests of South American and Central American countries like Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, and Columbia as the climatic conditions are favorable for this plant.
You may now be interested in getting your hands on the lips of Psychotria Elata. But unfortunately, there’s bad news for you: the Hooker’s lips are now endangered due to deforestation and their popularity among plant collectors. It’s even tough to find Psychotria Elata seeds online nowadays.
If you are looking for similar types of rare and unique plants, whether to surprise your loved ones or stand out amongst your neighbors in an environment-friendly way! Many of such plants are still available at Planting Tree.
Despite this sad fact about Hooker’s Lips, let’s hope that it doesn’t go extinct. Furthermore, great importance and care should be given to such rare plants before they kiss us goodbye.
Kailey is a travel writer currently based in New York, but mostly on the move. She loves sharing interesting stories from her experiences with the local culture, food and adventure activities through her writing. When she is not eating french fries and sipping wine, you can find her traveling to different areas, capturing new stories, teaching yoga, or working on her helicopter license.