Justicia californica

Flowers of Justicia californicum Photo © by Michael J. Plagens

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FLOWERS: Red, 2-lipped, long-tubular flowers with 2 stamens. Flowering peaks in spring and again after summer rains but flowers may be found sporadically throughout the year. Flowers arranged in racemes from leaf axils and at branch tips.


SHRUB: A large, rounded shrub up to 2 m tall with smooth green stems. Very often growing beneath and up through larger shrubs and trees along wash banks.

LEAVES: Leaves are drought and frost deciduous so that the shrub may be LEAFLESS for extended periods. When present the leaves are heart shaped.

RANGE: This plant is widespread throughout the Sonoran Desert and is quite common in places but is sporadic. Wash banks and on bajadas.

FRUIT: Dry capsule.

maturing fruit of Justicia californicum Photo © by Michael J. Plagens

Nearly throughout the year Chuparosa will have at least a few flowers. This is fortunate for the hummingbird populations that make use of this nectar source. Where Chuparosa is found it frequently forms rather dense stands along washes becoming one of the locally dominant plants. Such is the abundance of this plant along washes in the Ajo, Tabletop and McDowell Mountains.

Acanthaceae -- Acanthus Family

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 6 Nov. 2007
updated 7 Oct. 2015.