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Friday, March 29, 2013

Do you have Hot Lips?

     The 'Hot Lips' plant or 'Sore-mouth' bush are two names given Psychotria poeppigiana because of the obvious Resemblance!
     P. poeppigiana is a large shrub - a plant species in the family Rubiaceae. The inflorescences are carried upright or semi-erect and are surrounded by large bracts, colored a conspicuous red, that attract pollinators. The flowers themselves are inconspicuous, with the small yellow petals and sepals forming a narrow corollar tube. Pollinators are mainly hummingbirds, namely small hermit (Phaethornithinae) species like the Black-throated Hermit (Phaethornis atrimentalis), Straight-billed Hermit (P. bourcieri) and Reddish Hermit (P. ruber). They do not insert their bills deeply into the small flowers, and thus the pollinators of the Sore-mouth Bush include curved- and straight-billed species alike.
      In botany, a bract is a modified or specialized leaf, especially one associated with a reproductive structure such as a flower, inflorescence axis, or cone scale. Bracts are often (but not always) different from foliage leaves. They may be smaller, larger, or of a different color, shape, or texture. Typically, they also look different from the parts of the flower, such as the petals and/or sepals. Some bracts are brightly colored and serve the function of attracting pollinators, either together with the perianth or instead of it.
      Hot Lips ranges widely in the tropical Americas, from Chiapas, Oaxaca, Tabasco and Veracruz in Mexico to the very north of Argentina. It does not occur on the Pacific side of the American cordillera however, and is thus absent from El Salvador and Chile. It is probably also absent from Uruguay and Paraguay.

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