Impatiens niamniamensis is known as the parrot impatiens due to its vibrant scarlet and yellow flower colours and beaked, bird-like floral shape. Native to Central Africa, this species can be found growing terrestrially on hills and montane forests, near rivers or streams. Growing up to 90cm tall, it is a bushy perennial with stems that have a brown, woody appearance, though they are soft and succulent.
What's in a name? Aside from resembling a parrot, the genus name Impatiens is the Latin word for ‘impatient’ or ‘hasty’, which most likely refers to the impatient manner in which the green, unripe-looking seed pods explode open to scatter their seed. The specific name niamniamensis comes from a pejorative name 'Niam Niam' for the Azande people of Central Africa who inhabit the area where this impatiens was first collected.
Closeup of the petals, which is whitish-green. [Left] Closeup of the colourful lower sepal. Can you spot the curled spur? [Right]
This species flowers almost all year round! Its petals are whitish-green, and upon a closer look, you’d notice that its lower sepal shape is unusual, bird-shaped like with a curled nectar spur. It blooms in clusters at the nodes (leaf-stem junctions), and the flowers are normally hidden under the leaves. However it’ll be easy to spot them due to their bright colours! Head over to Secret Garden in Cloud Forest and see if you can find them amidst the other plants!
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!