Chuparosa, hummingbird bush
South California and west Arizona
Between 2 and 7 feet
Rocky hillsides, washes, gravelly or sandy plains; generally arid regions, up to 4,000 feet
Ovate or triangular, up to 2.5 inches long, softly hairy, on short stalks
Justicia californica is one of several shrubs with the common name hummingbird bush, on account of the narrow, tubular flowers which require long-beaked birds to assist with pollination. Plants are quite large, up to 7 feet tall and wide, and produce many bright red flowers; the main blooming period is in the spring, but favorable conditions can extend this all through summer into the fall. The shrub branches profusely, with flower clusters appearing at intervals most of the way along the stems. The stalked, oval- or triangular-shaped leaves are mostly withered by the time blooming occurs.
Individual flowers are about 1.5 inches long, opening to two lips, the upper straight, the lower curved down by around 45 degrees. Inside the flower tube are two yellowish stamens with broad anther sacs, pressed against the upper lip. The corolla is supported by a reddish calyx, split into five narrow, lanceolate lobes.