Endemic to the montane forests of Ecuador, Macleania pentaptera is an epiphytic to terrestrial shrub from the family Ericaceae, the same family as rhododendrons, blueberries, and cranberries.
Currently in bloom, this species sports vibrant, tubular orange-red flowers with green tips, growing from an axil on the stem. It is hard to miss as its bright flowers and glossy leaves will definitely catch your attention!
In contrast to its colourful flowers, the edible berries of this plant are a translucent white, and are known to taste really sweet! Like its other blueberry counterparts, it is high in antioxidant properties, which are known to reduce the risk of heart diseases. Who’d know such small fruits could really pack a punch!
Unfortunately, this plant is rare in cultivation and found almost exclusively in botanic gardens, so it will be difficult to get a taste of the fruit!
Notice the petals of this flower are fused together in a tubular form with a tiny circular mouth. How’d the flowers be pollinated, you wonder? The needle-like beaks of hummingbirds enable them to access the sweet nectar at the inner base of the flowers, pollinating them in the process. Find this plant on the side of the mountain in Cloud Forest while strolling on Cloud Walk!
Written by: Ng Yu Qin, Horticulturist, Research and Horticulture
Yu Qin is always looking for ways to pick up new skills and put them to use. She spends most of her time with orchids and enjoys learning something new about them every day!