( AFP / THOMAS KIENZLE)

Posts falsely claim to show a rare flower that blooms every four centuries

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

A photo of a colourful plant has been shared hundreds of times in Facebook posts claiming it shows a rare “Mahameru” flower which purportedly blooms only once every 400 years. The claim is false; the image in fact shows a plant called Salvia ‘hot lips’, a popular garden plant which blooms every summer.

The picture was shared in this Facebook post published on September 23, 2019. 

“Mahameru flower or Arya flower. Can be found in the Himalayan mountains. It blooms only every 400 years. If we are to see it again we would have to wait for another 400 years,” the Sinhala-language post reads.
 
Similar posts surfaced on Facebook in June 2021, as seen here and here

Screenshot of the Facebook post captured on June 28, 2021

However, the claim is false.
 

A reverse image search on Google led to a series of pages showing a plant variety named Salvia ‘hot lips’, including this 2014 article by British newspaper The Guardian titled ‘Plant of the week: Salvia 'Hot Lips'’.

Screenshot of the Guardian article from 2014 captured on June 24, 2021

According to its description, the plant known as ‘salvia microphylla’ is a garden variety plant that thrives in sunlight and blooms from July to October. The name ‘hot lips’ comes from the flower’s white and lipstick red colour, it notes.
 
Botanists also said that the flower in the image is salvia ‘hot lips’. 

Chief Horticulturist of Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Guy Barter told AFP that the image shows a plant called salvia ‘hot lips’.

“This is Salvia 'Hot Lips', a garden variety commonplace in the UK and it flowers every year,” he told AFP. “I am not so sure that 'Mahameru flower' actually exists!”

Hoaxes claiming to show a rare flower variety named have previously surfaced online,  as AFP debunked here.