plants of the florilegium

Justicia californica

FAMILY:  Acanthaceae — Acanthus family

SYNONYMS:  Beloperone californica

ETYMOLOGY:  The name of the genus Justicia honors James Justice (1698-1763), a Scottish amateur horticulturist who fell victim to the 18th century tulip craze and eventually bankrupted his estate with his investments in the wildly popular flower bulbs.

The species epithet californica is a Latin word meaning 'of, or from, California'.

'Chuparosa', the common name for Justicia californica, has as its root the Spanish verb chupar, meaning 'to suck', and rosa, or rose. The combination describes the main pollinator of the plant, the hummingbird.

DESCRIPTION:  The deep red-orange tubular shaped flowers of the chuparosa are ideal hummingbird flowers, as noted in the plant's common name. The flowers bloom off and on throughout the year. Minute white hairs covering the stems give them a light gray appearance. This dense bushy shrub can grow up to 6' high and 4' wide. The yellow-green leaves are drought and cold deciduous.

Chuparosa can be found at elevations from sea level to 2,500'.