Parrot Flower
Home True TRUE – Circulating Parrot Flower Photographs Depict Real Plants

TRUE – Circulating Parrot Flower Photographs Depict Real Plants

by Brett M. Christensen

This story was first published on May 21, 2008

Outline:
Circulating  message claims that attached photographs show a very rare plant with parrot shaped flowers that grows in Thailand.


Brief Analysis:
The claims in the message are true. Although they are rare, Parrot Flowers do exist and the photographs in the message are genuine.

Example:
Subject: The Parrot FlowerTHE PARROT FLOWER

This is a flower from Thailand . It is also a protected species and is not allowed to be exported. This will be the only way we will be able to view this flower. Prepare to be amazed:THE VERY RARE PARROT FLOWER.Parrot Flower



Detailed Analysis:
According to the text of a widely circulated email, attached photographs depict a very rare flower that grows in the shape of a parrot. The message claims that the “Parrot Flower” grows in Thailand and is a protected species. The photographs have generated a great deal of controversy since they first began circulating several years ago. Many commentators have suggested that the Parrot Flower is no more than a hoax and that the images have been digitally manipulated.

However, although they are indeed quite rare, Parrot Flowers do exist and the photographs are genuine. According to information on ExoticRainforest.com, the plants grow in Thailand, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and portions of east India and are rare members of the genus Impatiens, “Impatiens psittacina”. The word “psittacina” translates as “parrot like”. Steve Lucas of ExoticRainforest.com has published comprehensive information about the species and the history of the above email forward and photographs. The site notes that the information about the plant was first published in 1901 in the Curtis Botanical Journal Magazine by the botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker. And the now famous photographs included above were taken by a Thai grower of the plant in 2001. Scans of Hooker’s original description of the plant along with additional photographs of Parrot Flowers are also available on the website.

Moreover, information about Impatiens psittacina in an article by plant expert Ray Morgan notes:

Recently there has been some controversy on the internet regarding an Impatiens picture published on certain websites, bearing a certain resemblance to a parrot in flight. Many people have suggested that the plant did not exist and the picture was a fake, computer-generated from parts of other pictures. It has been referred to as the parrot plant. The plant, however, does indeed exist, and is Impatiens psittacina, which can be found growing in northern Thailand, northern India and Myanmar (formerly Burma).

It was described by JD Hooker in 1901 and the specific epithet means parrot-like. The flowers, which do resemble a parrot in flight, are shades of pale lilac, reddish purple and white. It is not closely related to the parrot-billed species, but deserves a place in this story.

Posts on the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden forum also confirm that the plant is real.

The claims in the email that the plant is protected in Thailand and cannot be exported also appear to be true. During his research, Steve Lucas was told that “Thai law made it illegal to own, collect, or export plants or seeds”. The rarity and limited geographic range of the species along with the difficulty of obtaining seeds or specimens for plant collections have probably contributed to speculation that the photographs are not genuine. Also, some versions of the email include incorrectly spelled versions of the plant’s scientific name (Impatiens psittacina), which may have also made it difficult for recipients to track down reliable information about the species.

It has apparently become fashionable for at least a few self-proclaimed image manipulation experts to declare virtually any strange or unusual image that crosses their email inbox or browser as “photoshopped”. Of course, many images that circulate via the Internet are indeed composite images or outright fakes. But in this case at least, the images are genuine.


Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer