Mom Nature Lights My Fire

This plant appeared in my garden a couple of years ago. I thought it was some sort of Amaranthus blown in from across the Atlantic Ocean and decided to leave it to see what happened. Amaranthus can have some interesting flowers (Love Lies Bleeding, etc.) The foliage started getting red around the edges, confirming my thoughts, then the stems started getting woody. Maybe it wasn’t Amaranthus at all.

Then it flowered.


Definitely not an Amaranth. Not a clue what it was. So, I took this to the Native Plant Society meeting and they said Firebush. Hamelia patens var patens? I said no, it couldn’t be, this is my Firebush, Hamelia patens. Orange flowers and the leaves are half as big.


Firebush and Friend

Then it dawned on me, there is a great deal of arguing about the true native Firebush. I  usually ignore this kind of argument being more designer than botanist, but think I am agreeing with the Hamelia patens var patens crowd. The orange flowering one is supposed to be from the Caribbean somewhere instead of Florida. Given the seemingly magical appearance of the patens var patens in my garden, I think that the red one is the native.

Mother Nature really is a good designer, she placed the Native Red Firebush in a bed of red and yellow Heliconias behind some yellow Beach Sunflowers and across from some red Bromeliads. Perfect.


Now if everything would just grow together. And be happy.



10 comments on “Mom Nature Lights My Fire

  1. Good old Mother Nature. It looks a bit like Hummingbird Bush. I’m sure the hummers will like it no matter what it is.


  2. I love this post! You got something you didn’t plant, and it is pretty to boot! And that’s a huge butterfly, no?


  3. George Rogers says:

    Firebush seems to be one of those little gifts of nature (or of the birds) that pops up and gets pretty. Love that butterfly. Been trying to think of a fun two-color image for an easy lino cut…you just provided the inspiration.


  4. Melody says:

    I live in N FL and bought a firebush with orange flowers and it didn’t survive the winter. Then a friend from Ocala gave me several cuttings of the red one and they are doing good. They tend to die back some in the winter but bounce back quickly.


    • Hi Melody, how interesting! The orange ones seem to be from the Caribbean so I guess they are less hardy? Weird orange ones are so often identified as natives when they probably aren’t, the orange ones are also really buggy and get mildew while the red one don’t.


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