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Hamelia patens (Scarletbush)
Nugent, Louis R

Hamelia patens

Hamelia patens Jacq.

Scarletbush, Firebush, Hummingbird Bush, Scarlet Bush, Redhead

Rubiaceae (Madder Family)

Synonym(s): Hamelia erecta

USDA Symbol: hapa3

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

Scarlet Bush 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 15 ft. in the southern part.

Firebush 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.


From the Image Gallery

25 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 15 feet tall.

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.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Pluto sphinx
(Xylophanes pluto)

Adult Food Source
Learn more at BAMONA


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 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

Web Reference

Webref 57 - Atlas of Florida Plants (2020) Institute for Systematic Botany

Research Literature

Reslit 388 - The identity of the African firebush (Hamelia) in the ornamental nursery trade (2004) T. S. Elias and M. R. Pooler
Reslit 282 - Effects of nectar consumption by the hummingbird flower mite Proctolaelaps kirmsei on nectar availability in Hamelia patens (1995) R. K. Colwell
Reslit 800 - Effect of pollinators and nectar robbers on nectar production and pollen deposition in Hamelia patens (Rubiaceae) (2003) E. Lasso and M. E. Naranjo
Reslit 822 - Facultative ripening in Hamelia patens (Rubiaceae): effects of fruit removal and rotting (1987) D. J. Levey
Reslit 1032 - Fruit-eating habits of birds in a fragmented landscape: Implications for seed dispersal (2000) R. Ortiz-Pulido, J. Laborde and S. Guevara
Reslit 1037 - Pollen consumption by the hummingbird flower mite Proctolaelaps kirmsei and possible fitness effects on Hamelia patens (1995) C. J. Paciorek, B. R. Moyer, R. A. Levin and S. L....
Reslit 1386 - Interactions between hummingbirds and butterflies at a Hamelia patens bush (1986) C. D. Thomas, P. M. Lackie, M. J. Brisco and D. N....
Reslit 2198 - Hamelia patens (Rubiaceae) accelerates fruit maturation rate in response to increased fruit removal (1997) J. G. Zurovchak
Reslit 2398 - Measuring the relationship between floral duration and fruit set for Hamelia patens (Rubiaceae) (1994) S. A. Cunningham
Reslit 2496 - Photoperiod, irradiance, and temperature influence flowering of Hamelia patens (Texas firebush) (1995) A. M. Armitage

This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
Search More Titles in Research Literature

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: 2023-05-15
Research By: TWC Staff

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