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Marcus, Joseph A.
Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Torr.) Henrickson
Flame acanthus, Hummingbird bush, Wright's desert honeysuckle, Wright acanthus, Mexican flame, Wright's Mexican flame
Synonyms: Anisacanthus wrightii
USDA Symbol: ANQUW
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
Native from west and south-central Texas into adjacent northern Mexico, Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii is a spreading, 3 to 5 ft. deciduous shrub with exfoliating bark; red-orange, tubular flowers; and light-green, lanceolate leaves.
Its brilliant summer-to-fall blooms, cheerful green foliage, pale bark, and ability to attract hummingbirds have made it increasingly popular in landscapes. Though found in the wild mostly in rocky, calcareous soils, it is adaptable both to the heavy soils of Houston and to the drying, confined conditions of pots. It is drought-tolerant and can survive low temperatures as far north as Dallas, though only the roots will survive the winters there and the whole plant will reemerge each year like a perennial from the ground. Though the attractive branches are somewhat brittle, it takes well to shearing and can make a dense, low hedge. As with other xeric plants within its range, rain will trigger a flush of blooms, covering the plant in fiery orange. In favorable conditions, it will seed out readily.
The species name of this plant is for Charles Wright, 1811-1885, world-wide botanical collector who collected extensively in Texas (1837-1852), Cuba, and his native Connecticut.
The Acanthus family includes trees, shrubs and herbs. Stems are square; leaves are generally without teeth or lobes, and are opposite. The flowers are 2-lipped and almost radially symmetrical. There are 2–4 stamens; when 4, they are in unequal pairs.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Root Type: Fibrous Leaf Retention: Deciduous Leaf Arrangement: Opposite Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf Shape: Lanceolate Leaf Venation: Pinnate Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous Leaf Margin: Entire Leaf Apex: Acute Leaf Base:
Rounded Leaf Texture:
Smooth Breeding System:
Flowers Bisexual Size Notes:
Normally no more than 3 ft tall but can reach 5 ft. Leaf:
Dull light green Flower:
Flowers 3-4 cm long Fruit:
Brown capsules, black seeds 15 mm Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red , Orange
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
TX Native Distribution:
The northernmost variety of its species, Anisacanthus quadrifidus
ranges from south-central Texas (the southern Edwards Plateau) and west Texas into northern Mexico. Its species, Anisacanthus quadrifidus
, continues south to Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Native Habitat:
Rocky banks and floodplains of streams, shrublands (matorral), and grasslands USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Low Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Dry , Moist Drought Tolerance:
High Cold Tolerant:
Well-drained sand, loam, clay, caliche, limestone. Adapts to a wide variety of soils, from rocky slopes to open areas. Conditions Comments:
This drought- and cold-tolerant shrub
will adapt to a variety of soils and does well in patio pots. It blooms best in full sun but will tolerate light shade. As with many other xeric plants, rain triggers blooms.
A showy shrub
with ornamental blooms for perennial
gardens and other planned landscapes Use Wildlife:
Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Conspicuous Flowers:
Butterflies , Hummingbirds Larval Host:
Janais Patch, Texan Crescentspot Nectar Source:
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
PropagationPropagation Material: Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Description: The easiest method of propagation is to take cuttings from the current season’s growth. Cut a 4 – 6 inch branch just below a node. Remove lower leaves and root in flats or small pots. Rooting hormone increases rooting percentage but is not necessary. Seeds can be planted in flats, or outside after the danger of frost has past. Sowing indoors allows for a sturdier plant to withstand mid-summer’s heat. Plant seeds 1/3 – 1/2 inch deep in a well-drained soil mix. Keep soil moist but not saturated.
Seed Collection: As soon as capsules begin to dry and turn brown but before they split open. Air dry and store in a cool, dry place for one season, or store in the refrigerator for longer periods of time.
Seed Treatment: Best sown fresh
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Pruning in winter encourages more blooms and a compact shape. Where it dies to the ground in the winter (meaning leaves wont resprout from the branches but the whole plant regrows from the ground each year, in the manner of a perennial), cut back to the ground before spring.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Small shrub to plant in Austin Texas
March 11, 2009
I live in Southwest Austin and I am looking for a shrub that I can plant against the back of my house, which faces the north. I want something native, fairly low maintenance and not too large,...
view the full question and answer
List of native perennial Texas flowers
March 13, 2006
Good day, I am searching for a list of native Texas flowers (preferably perennials) for a flower garden.
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From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Fredericksburg Nature Center
- Fredericksburg, TXLady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- Austin, TXSibley Nature Center
- Midland, TXBrackenridge Field Laboratory
- Austin, TXNative Plant Society of Texas
- Fredericksburg, TXNPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter
- Fredericksburg, TXNPSOT - Austin Chapter
- Austin, TXNational Butterfly Center
- Mission, TXNPSOT - Williamson County Chapter
- Georgetown, TX, TX
Recommended Species Lists
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Record Modified: 2010-09-25
Research By: TWC Staff, MWJ, JSC, GDG