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What Is a Hummingbird Bush?

A hummingbird, which is attracted by a hummingbird bush.
Article Details
  • Written By: J.M. Densing
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 06 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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A Hummingbird bush, scientific name Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii, is a deciduous perennial shrub with brilliantly colored flowers that is extremely attractive to hummingbirds. It is also known as the Flame acanthus or Wright anisacanth. It is native to southwestern North America, where it thrives in open fields. It's also planted in gardens to attract wildlife, and it is a relatively low maintenance plant.

Frequently the Hummingbird bush grows to a height of 36 to 60 inches (91 to 152 cm) and spreads out to a width of 36 to 48 inches (91 to 122 cm). It has slender branches that grow reaching upwards and divide several times, with pale, light colored, flaky bark. The leaves grow in pairs and are bright green with an elongated oval shape that ends in a point and a smooth texture.

The blossoms of the Hummingbird bush are a brilliant orange red color about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long. They have a narrow trumpet shape that gently flares out into separate petals, with prominent stamens and pistils emerging from the center. The flowers bloom for a long season, from early summer up until the frost, and they are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.

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The native area of the Hummingbird bush is southwestern North America, particularly in Texas and northern Mexico. It grows well in open grassy fields, rocky banks, floodplains, and scrublands. It is extremely drought tolerant, needing very little water to survive, and thrives in extremely warm temperatures. It is able to tolerate some cold, and does best in warm temperate climates with mild winters.

The Hummingbird bush is a favorite of gardeners in many areas due to its ability to attract hummingbirds and butterflies and because it provides long lasting color to the garden. The plant is commonly used in natural looking areas, flower beds, and borders, and occasionally containers. It does well in a sunny location, or partial shade. Because of its hardiness, the Hummingbird bush can adapt to a wide variety of soil types, from sandy to clay, and well drained soil is best.

The Hummingbird bush is able to tolerate drought conditions but it will flower less. It benefits from regular watering, and will respond with abundant flowers. The plant self seeds when conditions are right and spreads easily. In the past, Mexican Indians used parts of this plant as a colic remedy, and at times it is eaten by livestock.

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