Flower of the Andes

ENDANGERED

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Chuquiraga jussieui - is a species of flowering plant native to Ecuador and Peru. It is a low shrub, reaching a height of 75cm. The flowers are a pale yellow or orange and 2cm long. Its branches are fully covered by a rugged, resistant bark and hard pointy leaves. This serves as a defence mechanism against herbivores. The only animal that has adapted to feed from the flowers for pollen is the Ecuadorian hillstar hummingbird. The roots, leaves and flowers of this plant are known to have health benefits when prepared as a tea - helping with intestinal and liver functions and stimulating the immune system. The flower is also called the "flower of true love" - simply because it is so difficult to find one and take as it is quite painful. The plant is threatened by habitat loss and uncontrolled collecting.