So, you want to know where
Impatiens psittacina IS NOT in the Exotic Rainforest collection!
We do not sell plants!
Impatiens psittacina Hook.f.
Known on the Internet as
The Rare Thailand Parrot Flower
Not an orchid species!
Sometimes incorrectly spelled Impatiens psitticana, Impatiens psitticina, Impatiens psitticine
The ExoticRainforest does not sell plants despite what some websites say. We do not have this plant in our collection!
So you've convinced yourself you want to grow the Thailand Parrot Flower from northern Thailand, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and a very small portion of eastern India? I receive at least 5 requests for this plant every week and have done so for almost two years. I tell everyone we don't have the species. We don't sell it. We don't grow it. We can't get it! So, are you wondering why a rare plant collector with a large collection can't find or grow one? Are you curious why we can't easily buy the Thailand Parrot Flower? Well, answer six simple questions first and I'll try to explain why you can't find or the Impatiens psittacina either:
1) Do you think this plant is just like any garden impatiens?
2) Do you live in a tropical rain forest?
3) Do you believe this pretty little flower that looks like a parrot can easily be grown?
4) Would you enjoy a 6 foot tall (almost 2 meter) ugly weed with pretty flowers in your yard?
5) Are you willing to pay the $8,000 to $10,000 U.S. to obtain a small bag of seeds?
6) Would you'd enjoy doing time in a Thai jail?
Despite some of the ads on the internet offering seeds of this plant, every one has turned out to be bogus! Perhaps you need to know just a bit more about where Impatiens psittacina grows in nature and just why it is truly rare. Once you know more about the very rare species you will likely change your mind! But, if you are determined we'll tell you how to book a ticket to acquire a tiny bag of illegally collected seeds. But that bag could easily cost you $8,000 to $10,000 in airfare, hotels and tour guides, not including the cost of a few years in a Thai jail!
I frequently receive email asking if this plant can be grown in the United States, especially South Florida, California, Louisiana and South Texas. First, Impatiens psittacina is very rare and grows only in Northern Thailand, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and a small area of eastern India. (You can verify that fact here: http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?431382) Despite multiple claims on the internet, this species does not grow in Canada. The species in Canada is an invasive Impatiens known as Impatiens glandulifera. Many people believe this flower is a hoax, but there are numerous scientific texts which will verify its existence. Second, the plant gets big but the flowers don't! It reaches a height of 6 feet (1.8 meters) and is not a small garden impatiens like you at the local nursery! The plant looks like a very bad garden weed with beautifully odd flowers. Now, does that sound like a plant you want in your front yard? There are several photos of full grown plants on the main page for this species on this website.
Unless you are a rare plant collector with the facilities to maintain humidity, temperature, soil conditions (including pH) and numerous other factors you probably would not want this species! Believe me, I've spent an enormous amount of time trying to find this plant and exchanging mail with botanists, growers and even missionaries in Thailand and India. I've found multiple claims from people they have seeds. Not one has proven to be the real species and most are nothing more than Impatiens glandulifera.
I have had several exchanges with growers who insist Impatiens psittacina could be d on any of a dozen websites. Every time someone tells me that, I do another search. Not one site is offering the species, but many are asking for a source where they can it! A check of the International Plant Names Index (Royal Botanic Garden, Kew in London) done in April, 2008 reveals there are more than 1.300 Impatiens species in their records! http://mrimpatiens.com/1389_records_found%20of%20impatiens%20sp.htm Many are quite rare! So if you do a search for Impatiens psittacina every one of those sources will show up, but none has it! The only way you can isolate your search is to put "Impatiens psittacina" in quotes just as I have done here! Try it. If you place your search term in quotes the search engines will isolate the search to only the exact term and not search for either word individually. Otherwise, they will search for either word! You won't find a single source selling Impatiens psittacina. And if you ever do, please send me an email!
But Impatiens psittacina does exist. Even one lady at our local Thai restaurant has seen it in the wild! The Thai people call it "Dork Nok Khaew". Literally translated that says: "Flower Bird Parrot". So when you book your ticket to Thailand, memorize that term. You're not likely to find a great many people in northern Thailand who speak English.
Take a look at the photos at the left and very bottom of this page. The people are standing among 6 foot (almost 2 meter) tall plants! Most people aren't aware but there are hundreds of impatiens species in the world, many very rare. Many look nothing like what you know of as the impatiens in your yard and some are similar to Impatiens psittacina. But none are identical. This plant is not the species you think of when you think of the pretty little flowers that line your sidewalks. If you were able to find one, which is extremely unlikely, you would need to live in a hot, very uncomfortable, humid jungle to make it grow! Impatiens psittacina is a tropical plant that requires wet rain forest conditions to survive! We're talking a great deal of rain! Canada is certainly not tropical, and sorry, Florida is not tropical enough either! Florida is sub-tropical. If you live there, you may believe you live in the tropics, but you truly don't when compared to rain forest conditions!
Another major problem to growing Impatiens psittacina is nature's way of natural pollination. Seeds are difficult to obtain, even in Thailand! Many plant species require a specific insect or animal pollinator in to reproduce. Without that particular insect or animal species the plant just does not produce seeds. If you go to the main page on this plant (find the link at the bottom of this page) and read botanist Edward Dalton Hooker's original work (bottom of that page) written in 1901 you will learn he could not cause the plant to produce seeds at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in England. The suspected reason? The natural pollinator was not present. If you don't have the pollinating bug or animal you cannot grow seeds. If you can't produce seeds, you can't keep the plant growing year after year. And we apparently just don't have the natural insect/animal that pollinates this species here in the United States or Canada. Read the main page and you'll find quotes from researchers who study insect and animal pollinators and their habits. They speculate what the possible pollinator(s) may be.
Not a single botanical institution in the United States I can locate grows or displays this species. None. I have located one rare plant collector in the United States who went to Thailand and brought back seeds. One person! That person apparently could not make the plant grow past one year. And the cost of the airfare and guide in Thailand to collect the seeds was expensive! And sorry, please don't ask for that person's name. They don't want to be contacted! Personally, I had to work through an intermediary.
So why can't you just go out and the rare Thailand Parrot Flower? The major reason is it is illegal to export the Parrot Flower from Thailand. You would need to ask the Thai government why they elected to pass such a law. The best information available from the government of Thailand is they are serious about this ban. Why? I can't get an answer for that question from the Thai government. It is just the way things currently are done but likely the law was passed to protect this endangered species! However, the information to the right indicates how to grow the plant. This was printed on the cover of a Thai garden magazine so apparently a few people in SE Asia are growing the species! The information was translated for us in Thailand. But remember, they have that natural pollinator necessary to keep the plant reproducing.
Although one seed seller has been trying to find seeds to sell, the Parrot Flower is simply not available within North America or Europe. I am aware of only two rare plant collectors outside of Thailand (one in North America and one in Europe) who have attempted to grow the species. Both went to Thailand and collected their own seeds at great expense and neither apparently could grow it past the first year.
In Thailand the plant blooms only in October and November, right at the end of a very wet rainy season. If you look at the photos of the plant on the second page following the main article you'll quickly see the plant itself is not attractive. It is notoriously difficult to grow due to the humid and wet conditions it demands. So the next question would be, are you willing to build a $30,000 greenhouse with special conditions to keep this species alive? Well, I did! And I still can't obtain seeds!
The species is truly rare in nature and won't likely ever be available at your local nursery. But you can join a tour to go see it and perhaps collect your own seeds if you are willing take take a chance with the Thai law. I understand Thai jails aren't too pleasant! Information regarding that tour can be found on page two of the main article. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO INCLUDING AN EMAIL ADDRESS
Impatiens psittacina is real. It does exist. You can join a tour and see it! If you go when the plant is producing seeds (likely late November and December), you might even be able to bring some home provided you are willing to deal with Thai inspections and the US Department of Agriculture. The penalties are pretty stiff for attempting to import endangered species. I am unsure of how the US Customs and Agriculture people would treat you if they found the seeds, but it likely wouldn't be nice.
In the fall blooming season the plant can only be seen near Chiang Mai in north Thailand, in portions of Myanmar (Burma), and in extreme eastern India so be prepared to spend a few weeks getting there and back! And if you happen to be one of those who doubts the plant even exists, go to the library. You can find it listed in several scientific books on the plants of India and Thailand.
One interesting side note. If you have a local Thai restaurant ask the proprietor if they are from Chiang Mai. If they are, you may be surprised to find they know all about the plant. Apparently it is well known by the people of the region. A friend called recently to tell me the lady who runs their Thai eatery described it perfectly and so did people in our local Thai restaurant! And yes, I asked if they could get seeds! I was told politely, no!
This plant can be found in the scientific journal Plants of India, Volume 4 and other scientific books on plant species.
SORRY, I DO NOT HAVE THIS PLANT! We DO NOT sell it!
Want to know more about the species?
Go to the main story which includes new photos not seen in the email:
This link leads you to a detailed 2 page story on
New photos are on the second page.
These people are standing with the 6 foot
tall impatiens plant!