this plant sucks...or rather is sucked

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chuparosa
justicia californica
acanthaceae

  • NORMALLY 3-4' high and wide

  • perennial shrub

  • regular to moderate water (bottom to terrace zones)

  • FULL SUN TO PART SHADE

  • HARDY TO ABOUT mid 20sº F

  • Red tubular flowers in warm weather

  • NECTAR PLANT FOR BUTTERFLIES AND INSECTS, AND LARVAL FOOD PLANT FOR Texan Crescentspot butterfly.

The name chuparosa (Justicia californica) derives from the Spanish word chupar, meaning "to suck", a reference to the hummingbirds that adore this plant. 

Chuparosa is a special plant, native to Arizona, California, and NW Mexico. It has a look unlike many other plants--not quite a succulent, but...almost. The green, succulent-like stems with few leaves distinguish it from other species of Justicia, and many other plants in general. The green stems photosynthesize, giving this plant little reason to make a whole lot of leaves. Sometimes, when water is plentiful, they will produce more. This is a desert survival technique--leaves are expensive for a plant since they lose more water. Having photosynthetic stems allows you to collect more solar energy without losing water. 

The grey-green hue the plant creates is desirable to those of us who love the desert. This plant doesn't pretend to be from lusher climates! 

This twiggy shrub grows 3-4 feet tall and wide. Temperatures below 28º F will knock off leaves, and stems will be damaged in the lower 20sº F. Plants will regrow from frost damage in Tucson, but don't prune them until danger of frost has passed. You can also protect plants in warm microclimates, or cover plants during the cold and avoid worrying about damaged plants. 

Full sun to part shade is tolerated (the more sun, the more flowers). Give plants moderate to low water, and well-drained soil. 

This plant attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and is a larval food plant for Texan Crescentspot butterfly

1a Chuparosa - Vis. Center.JPG
Katherine Gierlach