Unusual Plants – Hot Lips


In Central America, this attractive plant is often given as a token of love.

This plant may look like it is puckering up for a saucy smooch, but it’s really saving all its love for hummingbirds and butterflies. The vibrant lip-like parts are specialized leaves designed to draw these feeders to its sweet nectar.

The hot lips plant is not the only plant to resemble something else. The bird of paradise plant looks just like its namesake, complete with colourful plumage, while the bleeding heart has bright pink, heart-shaped flowers. The yellow, orange, and red flowers of the flame lily resemble a roaring fire.

snapdragon-skullsPsychotria elata is the scientific name for the hot lips plant, which flowers in the humid forests of Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia. Called bracts, the glossy red leaves are the perfect colour to catch the eye of pollinators because butterfly and hummingbird eyes are very sensitive to red light.

Snapdragon Skulls

Blooming in the sunshine, snapdragon flowers are colourful and beautiful, but things take a sinister turn when their seed pods dry out to resemble tiny skulls.