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E Introduced Photo: Shaista Ahmad
Common name: Firebush, Hummingbird bush, Firecracker Bush
Botanical name: Hamelia patens    Family: Rubiaceae (Coffee family)
Synonyms: Hamelia coccinea, Hamelia erecta, Hamelia ovata

Firebush is a showy, fast-growing, semi-woody evergreen shrub that can get up to 15 ft tall under ideal conditions, but usually stays much smaller. It has whorled leaves, usually with three but occasionally as many as seven at each node. Leaves are elliptic to oval, about 15 cm long, and gray-velvet-hairy underneath with reddish veins and leaf-stalks. They are curled upward from the midvein. Throughout the year, firebush produces showy clusters of bright reddish-orange or scarlet tubular flowers, each about 2 cm long, at branch-ends. Even the flower stalks are red. The clusters of fruit also are showy. Each fruit is a juicy berry with many small seeds, ripening from green to yellow to red and finally to black. A firebush plant usually has flowers and fruit in various stages. Firebush is native to central and southern Florida and the West Indies, Central America and South America to Paraguay and Bolivia.

Identification credit: Rita Singh Photographed in Haryana & Maharashtra.

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