Firebush

Hamelia patens (Rubiaceae), Coralillo in Spanish

Hamelia patens, a native of Monteverde, occurs from sea level to 1,600m and can be found anywhere from South Florida to Argentina. It is often found in sunny forest gaps and other disturbed habitats.

The red-orange tubular flowers attract various hummingbirds and butterflies. The clustered fruits, ranging from a dark red to purple-black color, are eaten by birds. It flowers and fruits year-round and is an evergreen.

It is easily propagated from cuttings and is considered an ornamental—making it a great candidate for native-species landscaping.

This shrub or small tree, rich in alkaloids, is often used medicinally for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. As a bath/poultice, it is applied to various skin ailments. As a leaf tea, it is taken for worms and to relieve fever.