Hooker’s Lips Facts
- Most notably, the Hooker’s Lips plant only maintains this unique shape for a brief time. However, believe it or not, the highly distinctive shape actually does serve an important purpose.
- In addition to being a conversation starter, the species plays its own vital role in its environment. That holds true because it remains one of the few acceptable host plants for the rare golden silk moth.
- The inhabitants of its endemic range have also discovered multiple uses for the species. Given its rather unique form, it makes a popular gift Valentine’s Day. Various parts of the tree have also been discovered to have medicinal properties.
- Sadly, It has become highly endangered. It was moderately rare, to begin with. Now, its numbers and range have both been severely diminished by climate change and habitat loss.
Hooker’s Lips Physical Description
Firstly, though the Hooker’s Lips plant technically must be called a tree, it forms a rather diminutive one. This holds true due to the fact that this most unusual species rarely exceeds 10 ft (3 m) in height.
Further, the trunk grows comparatively thin. As a result, it often becomes bent slightly from the weight of the foliage. Likewise, the leaves of the species also grow comparatively long and thick in design.
The most noteworthy feature of the tree consists, obviously, of the bright red lip-like structure. These actually consist of bracts that form temporarily, prior to the appearance of the flowers.
Additionally, the unique shape favors the hummingbirds that serves as its primary pollinator. While the bracts present as red, the flowers show a bright white in color. This further adds to the attraction for pollination.
Due to the range in which it developed, the trees bloom from December to March. The flowers also become quite aromatic in nature. The berries that appear after the flowers stay small and dark blue or black.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Class: Angiosperm
- Order: Gentianales
- Family: Rubiaceae
- Genus: Psychotria
- Species: Psychotria elata
Hooker’s Lips Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The astounding Hooker’s Lips evolved endemically to a specific portion of both South and Central America. This range principally includes the countries of Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, and Colombia.
First of all, the deep portions of the rainforest comprise the native environment of the unusual plant. But, while the tree evolved as a tropical species, it has proven adaptable to temperate climates.
In addition to its visual appeal, the plant has provided several medicinal uses. Local inhabitants have learned to make use of both the bark and leaves. These can be used to treat coughs, earaches, and skin rashes.
Also, the indigenous Kuna Indians have traditionally used the plant for treating dyspnea.
Unfortunately, the species’ numbers appear to be decreasing quickly. This seems to be occurring due to the ongoing rainforest deforestation. As a result of this, its available habitat has greatly diminished.