Hamelia patens (Firecracker Shrub, Mexican Firebush, Scarlet Bush, Hummingbird Bush)

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Description
Hamelia patens (Firecracker Shrub, Mexican Firebush, Scarlet Bush, Hummingbird Bush) is a showy, fast-growing, semi-woody evergreen shrub that can get up to 15 ft (4.6 m) 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. The leaves are elliptic to oval, about 6 in (15 cm) long, and gray-pubescent underneath with reddish veins and petioles. They are reflexed upward from the midvein. Throughout the year, firebush produces showy terminal clusters (cymes) of bright reddish-orange or scarlet tubular flowers, each about 0.75 in (1.9 cm), long. Even the flower stems 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. In temperate climates, firebush is grown as an annual. Under these conditions, it gets only about 2 ft (0.6 m) tall, and in autumn the leaves turn deep red.