Return to Library Home Page

Scientific: Justicia californica
Common: chuparosa, California beloperone, hummingbird bush
Family: Acanthaceae
Origin: Southern Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and northern Mexico

Pronounciation: Jus-TIS-ee-a kal-i-FOR-ni-ca

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 10-13
USDA 8-9 (arid zones only)

Landscape Use: Xeriscape color, accent shrub, background, mass plantings on hillsides or large embankments, desert and rock gardens, attract hummingbirds

Form & Character: Drought deciduous, partially evergreen shrub, wispy, airy

Growth Habit: Informal, open, loose and sprawling, 2- to 6-feet tall with equal spread. Ultimate size and vigor depends on the amounts of supplemental water provided. Chuparosa will resist any attempts to be made to look formal.

Foliage/Texture: Small round to deltoid gray-green leaves to 1/4-inch diameter on gray-green stems, somewhat pubescent. Foliage density positively related to watering frequency. Arching branches appear almost leafless when drought stressed but are heavily foliated and succulent when irrigated.

Flowers & Fruits: Clusters of tubular red flowers to 1.5-inches long in terminal spikes. Fruit small, multicarpulate, inconspicuous.

Seasonal Color: Yellow to red flowers during the cool season, November to March.

Temperature: Tolerant, may freeze to ground in colder locations (not in Phoenix) but quick to recover in spring.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: Keep on dry side to maintain a tighter appearance. Responds to irrigation with copious succulent weak growth and limited flowers, so DON'T over water.

Pruning: Lightly prune to shape only as necessary. Little to no pruning is needed if irrigated properly (like hardly at all!).

Propagation: Softwood cuttings, seed.

Disease and Pests: None

Additional comments: Chuparosa attracts hummingbirds and gives a nice show of red color during the winter in Phoenix. In all, this is an excellent accent shrub for desert gardens. It's also a nice companion shrub to many other desert trees and shrubs. The yellow flowering variant is novel, though not superior in accent to the red flowering form. And did I say that chuparosa attracts hummingbirds?