Desert Honeysuckle or Chuparosa (Anisacanthus thurberi)

Family: Acanthaceae

This plant forms an open shrub that may reach several feet in height. We found this plant above in a narrow slot-canyon tributary to Lower Hot Springs Canyon on April 25, 2011. We were having severe drought at this time, and the good health of this particular plant reflects the situation where we usually find flourishing specimens of this shrub: a place that funnels a lot of water into the sandy soil nearby, with a lack of competitors.

This one at left was encountered in Sierra Blanca Canyon Wash in late March, 2006, also during severe drought and the somewhat more pale flower color here may reflect this as well, though the color generally ranges from red to orange. Note the tubular shape of the flowers, which may reach 2" in length, and which provide nectar for hummingbirds. Note also the two yellow stamens and long white pistil. Click on the image for a closeup.

The character of the shrub below reflects this drought condition, as well as the earliness of the season. Here, the flowers are in full display, while the leaves are just pushing out. You can see this better by clicking on the image.










The leaves of this shrub (below) are characteristically quite short-stemmed, and lanceolate in shape.