by John Clark, courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution
Growing in nature in Ecuador
Also known as Dalbergaria medicinalis and Columnea densibracteata. The species is reported to have medicinal uses among the indigenous peoples of Ecuador and Colombia. Note the interesting and decorative bracts wrapped tightly around the base of the flowers. Another photo shows the large size of the stems and leaves. An alternative flower closeup shows flowers significantly different in color compare to these -- although the overall "look" is very similar.
The cluster of flowers and the colorful bracts may provide a larger "target" for pollinating insects or hummingbirds, although little is known about the evolutionary history of Columnea or any co-evolution with pollinators.