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The Beautiful and Rare Osa Pulchra from Costa Rica

Category: Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the NY Botanical Garden Orchid Show, where one plant seemed to stand out above the rest, and it’s not even an orchid.

Osa pulchra is a member of the coffee family Rubiaceae. Many other species of plants in the same coffee family possess trumpet-shaped flowers like Osa pulchra. However this plant has large, showy, trumpet-shaped flowers that are cotton-white against shiny green leaves. Unfortunately, however, it’s also an extremely rare plant that’s quite difficult to grow in your garden.

Osa Pulchra Background

Osa pulchra is native to Costa Rica where, until recently, the only populations of this flowering plant were known to exist in the wild. In the past few years, a small population of Osa pulchra have also been discovered in the Panama region. So, just how rare is this trumpet plant? According to some horticulturalists, there are approximately 30-40 Osa pulchra specimens living in the wild.

Some experts believe the plant was bred by humans many centuries ago. Although there’s no scientific evidence to support this theory, Osa pulchra’s close proximity to villages in Costa Rica leave some to believe that it was created by locals living there.

The plant’s genus gets its name from the Osa peninsula, which is located in southwestern Costa Rica. It’s believed that nearly half of all species living in Costa Rica inhabit the Osa peninsula, and it’s also where one of the major populations of Osa pulchra grow.

Growing Osa Pulchra

Unfortunately, growing Osa pulchra is difficult if not impossible in most cases. Quite possibly the biggest hurdle gardeners face is acquiring a seed. As previously stated, Osa pulchra is one of the rarest plants known, both in its cultivated and wild state; therefore, you can expect some difficulties trying to find a seed. Instead of scouring the Earth in search of a seed, you should check out some of the cultivated specimens. The NY Botanical Orchid Show just wrapped up this past weekend, so you’ll need to look elsewhere for Osa pulchra. The US Botanic Garden in Washington, DC currently has some Osa pulchra specimens on display, so check it out if you find yourself in the area. The bragging rights of seeing this plant in perso make it worth the effort.

2 thoughts on “The Beautiful and Rare Osa Pulchra from Costa Rica

  1. Just yesterday I saw this plant in full blooming glory at the Huntington botanical gardens in Pasadena Ca. It has been there at least 5 years.

  2. This plant is also at the North Carolina Zoo in the Aviary. It just finished flowering. You will have to come and check it out sometime.

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