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Hamelia patens (Scarletbush)
Nugent, Louis R

Hamelia patens

Hamelia patens Jacq.

Scarletbush, Firebush

Rubiaceae (Madder Family)

Synonym(s): Hamelia erecta

USDA Symbol: HAPA3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), PR (N), VI (N)

Scarletbush or firebush’s terminal clusters of five-lobed, tubular, bright-red flowers are followed by dark-red berries. The leaves of this showy, tropical shrub are either opposite or whorled. The plant grows 3-6 ft. high in the northern part of its range and up to 12 ft. in the southern part.

Scarletbush is a member of the madder family (family Rubiaceae) which includes herbs, shrubs, and trees, with flowers borne in a branched cluster. There are about 500 genera and 6,000 species that occur primarily in tropical regions, where woody representatives are most frequent. Madder (a dye), coffee, and quinine are obtained from the family. Gardenias are popular ornamentals in mild climates.


Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Size Class: 6-12 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red
Bloom Time: Jan , Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov , Dec


Native Distribution: S. & c. FL
Native Habitat: Hammocks; coastal dunes; shell middens

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Description: Fertile to sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: Not Available

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Hamelia patens is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Pluto sphinx
(Xylophanes pluto)

Food Source
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Not Available
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

Status: FACU FAC
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Native Plant Nursery - Sanibel, FL
Hill Country Natives - Leander, TX

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Hamelia patens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Hamelia patens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Hamelia patens


Record Modified: 2014-09-23
Research By: TWC Staff

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