Friday, April 26, 2013

Perennial Herbs

Following up on my post about annuals, I have a few other species that I want to spotlight, but these are not  true annuals. They are technically perennials but don't really live more than a few years. They are short-lived perennial herbs, meaning that they develop no woody stem and generally die back to the ground after flowering, but then reappear the next year (if you haven't done something wrong and totally killed it). First is Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa).

In my case, I had spectacular blooms one year and then did something wrong and killed it. I think what I did wrong was to give it no water at all after it bloomed. I think it probably needs about once a month water to keep the underground parts of the plant alive.

Next I want to talk about a genus with many great garden-worthy species and varieties in it - the Penstemons (Plantaginaceae). Below is Penstemon Spectabilis, mixed in with poppies and phacelia.

Other nice Penstemons for the garden include Scarlet Bugler (P. centranthifolius) an upright species like spectabilis but with crimson red flowers, and a cultivar called 'Margarita Bop' that has flowers very similar to spectabilis but is more of a ground cover (to name just two). These will live several years, but after awhile they either die or get ugly and it's time to replace them (in my experience).

A somewhat less common (in cultivation) perennial herb is Sticky Cinquefoil (Drymocallis glandulosa) (used to be in the genus Potentilla in case you know it by that name). It's in the Rose family (Rosaceae) and it greatly resembles wild strawberry in foliage and flower, but it is an upright plant to about 3 ft.

Sticky Cinquefoil is a mountain species of pine forests or wetland/riparian areas. For this reason, it likes a little more shade and a little more water.

The last one for today is a really uncommon one in the garden - Western Thistle or Cobweb Thistle (Cirsium occidentale).

It's an oddity in so many ways. First it's in the Asteraceae family, the sunflowers/daisies/asters. Next, it's a native thistle - native to just about every county in California. When I learned this I was blown away because I had been conditioned to think that all thistles are invasive exotics - Not True! After seeing one in the wild, I just had to have it for my garden. These guys are not easy to find in the nursery trade. I finally found it at a nursery called Annie's in Richmond ( Although Annie's is in the Bay Area, they sell a number of plants that are native to SoCal. They send everything by mail, and it works great. Of course, you have to pay a little extra for the shipping, but it's worth it to me because they have some plants that I can't get anywhere else, like Cobweb Thistle. When they mail plants to you, they are exceptionally well packaged in 4" pots.

Anyway, back to this plant, in the photo below you can really see the cobwebby material that fills the calyx and gives the plant one of its common names. Overall, this plant is so different that it gives this part of my garden a very distinctive appearance. I think it lends a feeling of wildness to the garden. I hope it will come back next year.

Monday, April 22, 2013


There are so many things to talk about in the garden that it is sometimes hard for me to decide what to write about next. Since my annuals are peaking right now (April), it seems like a good time to write about them.

First, what do I mean by "annuals"? These are plants that germinate (sprout) from a seed, produce a flower and new seeds, and die within the same year. They leave behind no living stem or roots, only seeds. In southern California, annuals (sometimes referred to as annual wildflowers) have a good strategy for dealing with the summer drought. They are called "drought avoiders" because the plant itself doesn't have to try to make it through the dry season. Only the seeds must deal with the drought, and because they are self-contained life systems with very slow metabolism, they don't have a problem with months or even years of drought. When the rains come, they are ready to spring back to life.

A classic example of this phenomenon is the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), the official State Flower. Below is a shot of some of the poppies in my yard in 2010.

California Poppies are extremely easy to grow. You can buy the seed at just about any nursery or home improvement store. They germinate readily, they are popular with bees and other pollinators, and they produce copious amounts of seed for the next year. But be careful or they will take over your whole yard. My advice is to thin the seedlings to about 6" apart for best results, and mercilessly pull them out of areas where you may not want them.

There are a few recognized subspecies and/or varieties of California Poppy, and some of these are still under debate by botanists. For purposes of this blog, it is sufficient to say that there are some color variations between flowers from different parts of the state - some flowers have more yellow in them. For the average home gardener this doesn't matter. But if you live near the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve, you should be careful to use only seed from local flowers. This is to avoid genetic contamination of the wild poppies.

The next annual on my list is a genus with approximately 139 taxa (species, subspecies, etc.) from throughout California and the West. It is the Lupines. The species in my garden is Lupinus succulentus, otherwise known as Arroyo Lupine. It is quite widespread in the wild in California, and it makes a great annual for the garden, producing a tall, showy flower stalk.

Lupines are in the pea family (Fabaceae), so after flowering they produce a characteristic pea pod containing several large seeds. You can either let these seeds fall to the ground or you can collect them for sowing elsewhere.

Another sure-fire annual to try is Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla). It is in the Plantain family (Plantaginaceae).

I have only grown this one for a couple of years, but my experience with them so far is that they are great. They germinate readily and early, the flowers are small but gorgeous, and they reseed readily. They work best when massed - they form a temporary ground cover to about a foot high. So pick an open area with lots of sun and sow the seeds rather densely there.

Here's another annual that I love - Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa). It is in the aster/sunflower/daisy family (Asteraceae) which is an enormous family of great plants. In a previous post I have already talked about this family as "composites" so I won't go over that again. I'll just say that Tidy Tips is another winner for the home garden.

The last annual for today is from the primrose family (Onagraceae). It is Clarkia bottae. There are about 70 Clarkias in California and this is just one of the good choices for the garden. Like the other annuals I have described above, this one is easy to grow and yields great results.

I like these Clarkias mixed with other annuals and perennials, as in the photo below. There are California Poppies (both solid orange and yellow-orange although this photo exaggerates the difference), Clarkia,(pink) and a perennial called Beach Evening Primrose (smaller yellow).

I mentioned that California Poppy seeds are easy to find, but some of the others are not. If you want to try to native annuals, the place to go is the Theodore Payne Foundation ( This organization's mission is to help spread the word about native California plants, and they have a huge selection of seeds to choose from including several more species of Clarkia, Lupines, etc. I highly recommend that you give them a try.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wildlife in the Garden - Insects

First I have to say that I am not a good photographer and I don't have a good camera. Also, I find insects very, very difficult to photograph. Having said that, I have a few good photos that I will post below, starting with my new favorite, a fly sipping nectar from a Coastal Tidy Tips flower (Layia platyglossa). I wasn't sure whether this was a fly or a bee, so I sent an inquiry to and I got a very prompt answer from Daniel Marlos. He said it is a Flower Fly or Hover Fly in the family Syrphidae. Members of this family resemble bees in appearance and also act like bees in the way they forage on flowers. This presumably makes them good pollinators.

There are so many things I love about this photo. The markings on the fly are very clear, and the structure of the "flower" is also very clear, facilitating a discussion of the Asteraceae family (asters or sunflowers). The reason I say "flower" in quotes is that this family produces flower heads consisting of an assemblage of Ray Flowers and Disk Flowers. The Ray Flowers are what we would normally call the petals, but in this case each "petal" is a complete flower in itself (often male). You can see how each ray flower of the Tidy Tips above actually consists of 3 rays fused together at their base. The numerous Disk Flowers in the center are also complete flowers (often female), and this is where the seeds typically form, as in a common sunflower. For these reasons, plants in this family are sometimes referred to as Composites.

Below is a Yellow-faced Bumblebee (Bombus sp.) sipping nectar and gathering pollen from a lupine (Lupinus succulentus). These bees are very important for pollination. Unlike European Honeybees, Bumblebees and their kin are native to North America. If you have a native plant garden you are much more likely to see these native bees. The one below is a female (I think) that is carrying a load of pollen which will be used to feed her offspring.

The other day my grandson Chadd was visiting and we found a grasshopper in the yard.  Grasshoppers are fascinating to kids, so he had to catch it.

Grasshoppers aren't normally thought of as beneficial insects, but I believe they play an important role in the ecosystem. This one had very pretty markings on its wings which I of course could not photograph.

Today I saw this fly on a Clarkia flower (Clarkia bottae). Maybe it's an ordinary housefly but I try to photograph anything that is visiting a flower and is thus a potential pollinator.

There are several butterflies that are regularly in the garden but I don't have pictures of them. I frequently get Monarchs because there is an organization here in Encinitas that raises and releases them, Since I don't have any photos, you can go to their site to see good shots and get more info. I also get a lot of Mourning Cloak butterflies, but alas no photos.

In the summer we often get Hawk Moths (also known as Sphinx Moths).

 These guys forage for nectar at night, primarily on plants in the Evening Primrose (Onagraceae) Family. 

A couple of years ago while we were doing a remodel of our house, I came across a walking stick (Phasmida order). Unfortunately the first picture is out of focus. I told you I'm not a good photographer. I should have taken more pictures. I don't know much about these guys except that they eat plant material. If someone knows more, please let me know.

The final species for today is my favorite butterfly photo that I have ever taken. It is a Lorquin's Admiral sunning itself on a jojoba bush (Simmondsia chinensis).

Wikipedia says "The butterfly is named after Pierre Joseph Michel Lorquin, a French naturalist who came to California from France during the Gold Rush and made important discoveries on the natural history of the terrain." The butterfly reportedly prefers to forage on California Buckeye (Aesculus californica) which I don't have in my garden. They also take yerba santa, privet, bird droppings and dung. I'm not really sure what it was doing in my yard, but it was nice to have it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wildlife in the Garden - Reptiles

For me one of the best rewards of a native plant garden is the wildlife that is attracted. Of course there are tons of birds, but at the moment I don't have many good pics of birds in my garden. There's the hawk picture that I included in the post about the bog planting area, but not much else. So I'm going to focus on insects and reptiles for now.

The dominant reptile in my garden is the Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata). I'm assuming that it is the San Diego subspecies which is E.m. webbii.

Alligator lizards eat a variety of invertebrates. Most of the year they are secretive, hiding under rocks or logs. I have a pile of rocks under my oak tree specifically as a hiding place for alligator lizards. But in Spring they become bold and are seen out in the open in the daytime, sometimes even coming into the house. I've had one under the refrigerator, and one time I was asked by my neighbor to get one out of her dining room. They usually move quite slowly but when frightened they run with a snake-like slither that can be a bit unnerving. Although they don't have real teeth, they can bite in self defense. It feels like a really hard pinch with the fingernails.

They have a somewhat prehensile tail which they can use in climbing. You can see just a bit of this guy's tail which he used to climb up in my Lemonade Berry bush. Lizards are known for being able to lose their tails and grow a new one. His tail was complete, quite long and handsome.

The other lizard that lives in my garden is a really rare one, or at least seldom seen. It is the Silvery Legless Lizard (Aniella pulchra ssp. pulchra). That's right, it is a lizard but it has no legs. It's not a snake because it has eyelids (I'm not making this up). They live mostly underground in sandy soil that has some vegetation on top and some moisture. That's a big part of why they are seldom seen. I find them occasionally when I am digging in the garden. They eat primarily insect larvae and earthworms but will also take some adult insects and spiders. The photo below makes it look large, but it is way bigger than life-size. They are really only about 6 inches long.

File:Anniella pulchra1.jpg

I have never been able to photograph one myself because when I find one I want to get it back into the ground right away. So I am using the above photo which was taken by Marlin Harms and was posted on Wikimedia Commons. Thank you Marlin. The skin is extremely smooth which facilitates burrowing. In the subspecies found in my region, the dorsal side is very silvery. They have tiny eyes because they spend very little time above ground. The most fascinating aspect of their biology is the fact that they are so cold tolerant. Most lizards need sunlight to get their metabolism going, but legless lizards are happy living without the warmth of the sun. They may derive some warmth from the decomposition of surface debris. The loss of legs and cold tolerance are amazing examples of evolutionary adaptation.

The last reptile I want to talk about today is also seldom seen. It is the Garden Slender Salamander (Betrachoseps major ssp. major). It is even smaller than the legless lizard, only 3-4 inches long including the tail. The don't burrow underground but they live under rocks, logs or vegetation. They feed primarily on very small invertebrates.They are in the family of lungless salamanders, so they breathe through their skin. To do this they must have moisture, so you will find them in the more mesic areas of your garden, sometimes even in potted plants.


Again I don't have my own photo to use, so I am using the one above courtesy of Jengod at en.wikipedia. Thank you Jengod. Though seldom seen, the Garden Slender Salamander is pretty common in cismontane southern California. Keep an eye out for them.

In conclusion, one of the main points I want to make about these reptiles is their need for cover. All of these need either rocks or logs or leaves or other ground covering organic matter to provide suitable habitat. Many garden books and blogs will tell you to rake and remove such material every year to eliminate pests. I believe the people who advocate this are trying to grow exotic plants that require way too much water which is encouraging the very pests that they complain about. A great example is hibiscus which in invariably infested with white fly. My opinion is to grow plants that require low to moderate amounts of water, ideally native to the area where you live, and leave their organic material on the ground. The reptiles that will live there will take care of a lot of insect pests. Also, the best mulch for your garden is the leaves from the plants you grow, and this mulch will help your soil retain more moisture. Of course you can buy mulch which is good when you are first starting your garden, but after you get some trees and shrubs established, they are going to manufacture a lot of mulch for you. Just leave it where it falls.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Other Chaparral Shrubs - The Sages

So far I have concentrated on larger chaparral shrubs that give structure to the garden. I have discussed my gardening experience with Coast Live Oak (a tree rather than a shrub), Flannel Bush, Toyon, Lemonade Berry, Silk Tassel Bush, and Calif. Lilac.

Now I want to talk about other shrubs that fill in beneath the larger shrubs, adding color and different textures. I'll start with the Sages (Salvia sp.). There are a great many Salvia species. One of my favorites is Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii).

The Salvias are in the Mint family (Lamiaceae). The flower structure is characteristic of many of the sages, having a tall spike with numerous whorls of individual flowers. In botany lingo this is called a verticillaster. Foliage of mints is typically fragrant and Cleveland Sage certainly exemplifies this. On a warm summer evening with no breeze the sweet fragrance will carry quite a distance from the plant. I can sometimes smell it inside the house. Another thing that many people like about the sages is their grey-green foliage color.

Another of my favorite sages is White Sage (Salvia apiana). It has larger, smoother leaves that are more grey, almost white in color. The fragrance is different too, being less sweet and more pungent. Native people use the leaves as an incense. The inflorescence (flower stalk) is also a verticillaster, but the individual flowers are paler. In my garden the inflorescence of White Sage appears later than that of Cleveland Sage. The habit of the plant is more spreading and less upright compared with Cleveland Sage. Altogether it is another excellent choice for the garden.

The final sage for today is Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea). It's behavior and requirements are quite different from White Sage and Cleveland Sage. It is an herb rather than a shrub, so it doesn't really get a woody stem on it. The leaves are softer and a bit more succulent. Hummingbird Sage is essentially a ground cover that likes sunny to partly shaded areas, such as beneath my oak tree. These areas are often referred to as dry shade, although it probably retains a little more moisture in the soil than adjacent sunny, open areas. In really dry periods it may almost disappear, retreating into its underground parts. But with once a month water it will stay green and happy.

It spreads by underground runners, so that a single plant will become a patch, but I wouldn't call it invasive. As shown in the photo above, the foliage doesn't get very tall, about 1 ft. at the most.

The inflorescence (flower spike) by contrast gets to be a couple feet tall and is great. Individual flowers pop out from all around the whorl. Interestingly, it seems to bloom more readily in sunny areas, even though the foliage seems to do better in shady areas.

Hummingbird's of course love it. Altogether it is a great one for locations that get sun just part of the day or lightly filtered sun all day.

Lilacs and Manzanitas

One can't talk about chaparral shrubs for the garden without mentioning two more groups of plants, the California Lilacs (Ceanothus) and the Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos). Both of these groups of plants have numerous species, subspecies, cultivars and varieties to choose from. If you look at the plant list for any California native plant nursery you'll see that these two groups far outnumber any other group of plants in terms of variety. There are tall ones and medium ones and ground covers. There are different leaf colors and flower colors. So, I am going to focus on the ones that I have in my garden, but keep in mind that you may want a different variety for your garden.

I have several Ceanothus but the main one I have is a variety called "Ray Hartman". It is a hybrid of two species - C. griseus and C. arboreus. Nowadays I prefer to buy straight species rather than hybrids, but when I planted this one many years ago I was less knowledgeable and less picky. And it's a beautiful shrub so I'm not criticizing its hybrid origin. Mine is about15 ft. tall but they can get even taller. It has blue flowers in the puff-ball style that is typical of the genus. The bloom starts in February and lasts into April.

The thing that can't be conveyed in these photos is the incredible fragrance of the flowers. It is intoxicating. There is nothing like hiking through a dense stand of Ceanothus when it is blooming. Unlike many of my other shrubs, this one is not invasive, not spiny, and does not get too wide, so it is great right next to a path or next to a house or fence. It takes pruning well but doesn't require a lot, and it requires little or no supplemental watering once it is established. Mine thrives on rainwater only, and I recommend that. Excessive watering, especially in the summer, will make for a very short-lived Ceanothus. In the summer the leaves will get dry looking and not so attractive, but that's par for the course with most native So Cal plants. I guess that's one reason why some people don't like them, but personally I like to see the subtle changes in the seasons reflected in the plants in my garden, just as they are in the wild.

Now for the Manzanitas.As I already indicated, there are a ton of species and subspecies from all over the state, as well as numerous cultivars and horticultural selections. My favorite is a rare one (actually endangered) from the north San Diego County region known as Del Mar Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. crassifolia). Mine is about 7 ft. tall and with about an equal spread. It's difficult to get a decent overall shot of the shrub so the following are shots of the leaves, flowers, fruit and trunk.

The urn shaped flowers are typical of the Ericaceae or Heath family which is the family that the manzanitas belong to. Manzanita means "little apple" in Spanish, and you can see where that name came from. Manzanita fruits really do look like tiny apples. The trunk has the smooth reddish bark that is characteristic of this family. My plant is around 20 years old so it has had time to develop a burl at its base. This burl will allow the shrub to resprout after a fire, also typical of the manzanitas generally.

As I noted above, this subspecies of manzanita is listed as Endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because it is restricted to eroded sandstone soils in close proximity to the coast. This happens to be where a lot of urban development has occurred over the last 60 years. Before it was listed, I collected mine as a seedling from a property in Carlsbad that had an apartment project approved for it. There were many big, old Del Mar Manzanitas on the site, as well as many seedlings of various sizes. I dug up one that was under 6" tall and had a taproot about 1' long. I was able to get the entire taproot plus a bunch of native soil, and the plant seemed to like my garden in Encinitas just about as well as the site where it came from. A few months after I collected this one, the property got scraped to build the apartments.

Here's another one that I have in my front yard. It is a different genus (but same family), Xylococcus bicolor, commonly known as Mission Manzanita. It is more common, not rare or endangered. The flowers and fruit are very similar to other manzanitas.

I made the mistake of planting this one where my neighbor decided to put his mailbox. Oh well, it's still doing okay.

As I said before, there are many, many Manzanitas to choose from. For all plants, both native and non-native, it's important to select species and varieties that are suitable for your location, climate, soil, sun/shade mix, etc. It really pays to do your homework first.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Still More Chaparral Shrubs

Here are a few more large shrubs that help make up the basic structure of my garden. First is Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia).

It's another staple of the native garden. It's easy to grow. It has fairly inconspicuous flowers but bees love them. In winter it has red berries that are attractive and birds love them. Like Lemonade Berry it is evergreen. It can get up to 20 ft. tall under ideal garden conditions, but it also takes pruning well. When mine got too big a few years ago, I cut it back to the ground. It resprouted from the stump and now looks like the photo above.

Next is a unique plant, Silk Tassel Bush (Garrya elliptica). I have to admit that mine doesn't look too great at the moment. There used to be a couple of big trees next to it that shaded it too much, so the lower part of it lost all its leaves and there were a lot of dead branches. I cut down the two offending trees so the Garrya is now sprouting new growth all over the place but you can't see it yet.

Despite my not-ready-for-prime-time photo, this is a really nice shrub. It doesn't get as tall as Toyon but it is evergreen and very attractive year round. But Garrya's most unique feature is its flowers. They hang down in long chains or tassels.

Another great chaparral shrub that deserves mention is Summer Holly (Comarostaphylis diversifolia ssp. diversifolia). Unfortunately I don't have a good photo of it. It's a rare one in the wild, but available in several nurseries. It has small but attractive white flowers that very much resemble the flowers of manzanitas to which it is closely related. It has red berries that appear in the summer and are appreciated by wildlife.  Too bad I don't have a picture, but you can look it up on

Stream Orchid and Oak Update

This is a short update to a couple of earlier posts. In the bog area, the Stream Orchids (Epipactis gigantea) that I planted there a few months ago are now sprouting up. They are very small at this point, but there are three of them, and they indicate that the plant is happy in this location. I don't have any info on when they sprout up in the wild, but I assume it is in this March-April time frame. I will continue to follow these as they get larger in size, and hopefully they will flower this year.

I should note that Stream Orchids are not easy to find in nurseries. I got mine from Las Pilitas Nursery in Escondido. They also have a location in Santa Margarita which is inland from Moro Bay on the central coast of California. They a great web site with voluminous info about growing natives, both species that they sell and also many others. You can find it at Much of what I know about native plants came from this web site. If you are new to California native plants and want to learn about it, I recommend studying this web site.

In my previous post about the oak tree in the front yard (Quercus agrifolia) I noted that it was getting a lot of new growth and flower tassels. That has continued, and now the tree is totally covered with new growth. It is all pale green now as chlorophyll has flowed into the new leaves.

The above photo shows the new stems with baby leaves extending out about 6 inches from the older stems. This process is surprisingly fast, happening in just a couple of months. The new stems may lengthen a bit more, then the process will slow down and finally stop as the summer drought hits. The leaves will become larger, harder, and darker green. Acorns will form and by November they will be full size.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

More Chaparral Shrubs for the Garden

I've already talked about California Flannelbush (Fremontodendron californicum) as one beautiful example of a chaparral plant that can be used very effectively in the home garden. Today I want to talk about some others. Let's start with Lemonade Berry (Rhus integrifolia). It is in the Anacardiaceae (Sumac or Cashew) family.

In the photo above the Lemonade Berry is the shrub with visible trunk and branches. This plant is about 20 years old and has developed a really nice branch structure. I have pruned the lower branches and leaves so the structure of it can be seen. I also prune the top to keep it from getting too tall. To the right of it is a coast prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia littoralis). In the foreground with red-orange flowers is Sticky Monkeyflower (Mimulus aruantiacus). To the left of the Monkeyflower is a Baja Dudleya (Dudleya brittonii).

Lemonade Berry is not as showy as some other shrubs (such as Flannelbush) but it is easy to grow, very versatile and great for providing structure in the garden. The leaves are dark green, somewhat thick and leathery, and remain on the plant all year. It takes pruning very well and can even be sheared into a hedge. The flowers are very small and pink, pretty when seen up close and also popular with bees.  It is generally dioecious, meaning that it has male and female flowers on separate plants. In summer the female plants develop a red fruit that has a sour-tasting "slime" on the outside of the fruit. Native people of Southern California used this fruit to make a beverage, leading to the common name Lemonade Berry. If you want to try tasting this, pick a couple of ripe ones, making sure they are red and really slimy. Put them in bottle of water, shake well and drink.

The next chaparral shrub I want to talk about is Santa Cruz Island Gooseberry (Ribes Thacherianum), endemic to the California Channel Islands.

Like other members of this family (Grossulariaceae - Gooseberries or Currants), it forms a thicket of numerous slender, upright stems which can be more clearly seen in the photo below.

It is one of the earliest in my garden to bloom, typically in February. The flowers are small but lovely and borne in a profusion on the tips of the stems.

It has a few drawbacks. It is deciduous, so it is bare in winter. Because it is thicket-forming, it is somewhat invasive. It will spread itself across an ever widening portion of your garden unless you control it. I control mine by cutting back aggressively every year or so. If you cut back to ground level, the stump will resprout vigorously. If it comes up in a place that I really don't want it, I spray the sprout with an herbicide. This plant also has spines making it difficult to work around, so it is not for everyone. On the plus side, it is great for wildlife because birds and other critters can take refuge inside the thicket. It is also useful as a visual screen or as a physical barrier.

The last plant I will talk about today is another Currant - Fuchsia Flowered Gooseberry (Ribes speciosum). It has many similarities to R. thacherianum, but what is most distinctive about speciosum is its incredible profusion of ruby red flowers.

This one also has spines that you can see in the photos. It is deciduous. It flowers in from late January into March. I don't find it to be as invasive as thacherianum. I have trained mine so that it is up against a fence, and it seems willing to stay there. Hummingbirds love it. I love it.