Hooker's Lips Flower (Psychotria elata)

Updated: May 25

Otherwise known as the Hot Lips flower, this plant is well known for its iconic formation. But why does it look like this? Well, let's look at the science and find out for ourselves!





Physical Description and Behavior


This plant is a shrub that resides in the same family as coffee and bedstraw. They can grow from 1 meter all the way to 4 meters tall (13 feet), meaning that you might have to stand on your tippy-toes to get a smooch. Its morphology also changes in relation to light received, and even what the nearby plants are.


The most famous part of this plant has to be the "lips."While they might look like it, these are not flowers, but instead, a modified set of leaves that are made to attract pollinators. It does not release a scent, so it has to rely entirely on looks in order to attract insects to pollinate it. The flowers of this plant grow from the small hole between the "lips." These small white flowers then turn into dark blue berries, which are picked up by birds and other animals and redistributed.


The Hot Lips is used often in native cultures as folk medicines. Due to its psychedelic effects, you can also see this plant being used in some cultural ceremonies, and even in medical practice. Although little research has been done to prove the effectiveness of this plant.


Habitat and Location





This plant seems to have originated between Mexico and Guatemala. Even going as far south as Ecuador. It can also be found in El Salvador and Panama as well.


Due to deforestation and over-harvesting of this plant for Valentine's Day gifts, the Psychotria elata is considered to be endangered.


Check out the video below to see some more fascinating flowers!




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