Gmelina philippensis (Parrot’s Beak)

Gmelina philippensis (Parrot's Beak)Gmelina philippensis (Parrot’s Beak), Aka Hedgehog, Snapdragon, Hindi, and Badhara. 􏰀􏰂􏰃􏰂Gmelina is a genus of plants in family Lamiaceae. Gmelina comprises about 33 species and occurs in the Caribbean, Tropical America, Philipine Islands, India and Southeast Asia. Gmelina philippensis bears a flower in an extraordinary round shrub with pendant branches, medium sized, ivy shaped leaves and exotic flowers comprised of yellow blossoms which emerge at the end of a tube-like structure of overlapping bracts, which are red as they bloom. The flower is said to resemble a parrot’s beak or a snapdragon.

It has become naturalised in the neotropics, India, Africa and Australia. It was named by Carl Linnaeus in honour of botanist Johann Georg Gmelin, (1709-1755), German botanist. Flowers open during the night and remain open for 1 day, rarely 2 days, before they fall. Fruiting begins with a green fruit which contains one seed. You can see the plant fruiting here still green. The fruit is not edible and non-toxic.

Once the flowers fruit, a tube-like structure of overlapping bracts remain solitary in pendulous form. Hardy to USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F), USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F), USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F), USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F).   Gmelina philippensis

It tends to grow as a round shrub with pendant branches, when not pruned. Gmelina philippensis is more a vine or climber reaching a height of 10-15 feet. Gmelina is a short-lived tree, which reaches an age of 30-50 years. Appropriate for smaller bonsais (see link below), and rare in San Juan, P.R.. Used mostly for ornamental purposes but bees and hummingbirds feast on it. Gmelina philippensis Cham. [as Gmelina hystrix Schultes ex Kurz], Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, vol. 120 [ser. 3, vol. 50]: t. 7391 (1894) [M. Smith]
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49 thoughts on “Gmelina philippensis (Parrot’s Beak)

    • Thank you, I wasn’t going to post it at all because it is rare; and I needed to get inside the patio of the house to see the trunk, but wasn’t able to. The form is amazing and rare for sure.

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  1. Informative presentation, Maria, as I am yet to sight such a tree anywhere in India. Your post is a pointer for me to observe more. I am sure you will put all your presentations in the form of a compendium at some point of time, as it is bound to be a useful reference source and a nature lover’s delight.

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    • They have lasted for about four weeks since I took the images; I will drive around there soon to check if bracts remain. Will let you know. They should because they’re part of the flowering process, but it tends to fool you because they look so much like leaves.

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  2. Your deep knowledge never ceases to amaze. I love how you capture each shot so perfectly. I know I’ve mentioned before, it’s almost as if I can reach out and touch them through the monitor 🙂 Thanks for sharing, and wish you a lovely weekend.

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    • Thank you Takami for such nice cameras. I’m doing a lot of “off-camera” flash (wirelessly). You’ll find that most new Canon camera models have this feature. It improves lighting dramatically, in my situation.

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  3. De la mano de tu cámara todo parece muchísimo más bello. Todas las imágenes son buenísimas, pero la primera foto me parece impresionante, por el los contrastes de luz y color, por el enfoque perfecto. Una vez más, María, mi felicitación y agradecimiento.
    Un abrazo.

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    • Isabel, otra vez muchas gracias por tus palabras de apoyo. Esta es una de esas flores bien raras del trópico. La encontré de pura coincidencia, solo al acercarme vi que dentro de todos esos pétalos yacía una flor escondida.

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  4. Liebe Maris sehr schöne Fotos sind dir super gelungen einen schönen Abend und ein tolles Wochenende wünsche ich dir mit vielen lieben Grüßen Klaus in Freundschaft

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  5. Mother Nature certainly has given this floral treat a design that is shaped almost like a spoon. All the better to lure the insects. It’s fascinating the way the flower emerges. Nicely captured for us to gaze upon them.

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  6. Maria – you must be clairvoyant! I have a photo of this plant, which grows around some family place in St. Lucia and wanted to ask you if you knew the name! It seems to be quite rare, and no-one seemed to know what it is called. I didn’t know it could grow so big. So, muchisimas gracias for this. Now, it’s no longer the flower that can’t be named. I’ll post it on my blog and inform that I found out the name on your blog.

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