Chuparosa

Justicia californica

Chuparosa is a loose, sprawling, informal shrub. This Arizona native has grey-green branches that can reach to 3 feet high and 4 feet wide. Grow it for its showy red flowers that appear most abundantly in late winter to spring, though may be seen other times of the year. The leaves will drop with drought or cold but the green branches stay attractive.

Grow chuparosa in full sun and well-drained soil. Water deeply only once or twice a month in summer. Too much water will make the plant large (e.g. to 6 feet x 6 feet) and lanky and reduce flowering. If not overwatered, chuparosa needs minimal pruning. Do not prune in fall, which will stimulate cold-sensitive new growth. Pruning when flowers or flower buds are present will only reduce flowering.

Wildlife value: a great hummingbird plant! The name chuparosa derives from the Spanish word chupar, meaning "to suck", a reference to hummingbirds.

More Information:

Weekly Plant on chuparosa

Horticultural information from ASU

Horticultural information from Pima County Master Gardeners

Map of distribution in US

In books

Native Plants for Southwestern Landscapes by Judy Mielke, page 171.

Perennials for the Southwest by Mary Irish, page 161.

 

 

ID Characteristics

This plant is in the Acanthaceae - the acanthus family.

form of chuparosa  blooming at Academy Village

Chuparosa is a sprawling shrub that wants to spread. Make sure to give it the space it needs. Too much irrigation will make it even larger.

leaf of chuparosa blooming at Academy Village

The opposite leaves are less than an inch long, somewhat triangular in shape. They may drop in drought or with cold weather. It is not unusual to see the plant blooming with no leaves at all. The stems are a white-green that lend color to the landscape, even when there are no leaves or flowers.

flower of chuparosa  blooming at Academy Village

The flowers of chuparosa are held in clusters at the ends of branches. Each flower is long and slender dividing into two lips at the end, about an inch long. Red, tubular flowers are the classic shape known to attract hummingbirds.

fruit of chuparosa  blooming at Academy Village

Chuparosa fruit are not ornamental.