Love for a tan flower

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desert honeysuckle
anisacanthus thurberi
acanthaceae

  • normally 4' tall X 3' wide

  • deciduous or semi-deciduous SHRUB

  • moderate water (terrace zone)

  • FULL SUN to part shade

  • HARDY TO ABOUT -20sº F

  • NECTAR PLANT FOR BUTTERFLIES AND INSECTS, SEEDS FOR BIRDS, AND LARVAL FOOD PLANT FOR BUTTERFLIES and tortoises

Everyone always seems to want the red tubular flowers. We agree, they are nice and all. But seriously, that form has been kinda done! Along comes desert honeysuckle (Anisacanthus thurberi) sporting what is distinctly a tan-colored flower. It's a rather attractive, deep wet clay color that we really love. Hummingbirds also love this flower, despite it not being the typical red they are known for loving. 

Desert honeysuckle usually has somewhat of an upright form growing normally to about 4 feet tall and about 3 feet wide. In nature, they have been observed to grow to a sprawling 12 feet tall! These specimens are usually found in canyons, in unusual conditions. In any case, they are easily pruned to smaller dimensions (within reason) and are normally well-behaved in cultivation. Plants go dormant or semi-dormant in winter (depending on how cold the location is) but return fairly quickly in early spring. 

Flowers occur heaviest in spring, but can be observed whenever there is warm weather and enough water, even in winter sometimes. 

These plants are loved by many creatures: as mentioned above, hummingbirds love the flowers, as do many nectar-loving insects like butterflies. Tortoises love the foliage, and the plant is a host for bordered patch butterfly and cassius blue butterfly.

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Katherine Gierlach