Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2004
Publication Date: 6/5/2004
Citation: Pooler, M. 2004. The Idenity of the African Firebush (Hamelia) in the Ornamental Nursery Trade. HortScience. v. 39(4) pg. 772.
Technical Abstract: The neotropical shrub Hamelia patens Jacq. has been cultivated as an ornamental in the United States, Great Britain, and South Africa for many years, although only in limited numbers and as a minor element in the trade. In recent years, other taxa of Hamelia have been grown and evaluated as new flowering shrubs. The relatively recent introduction of a superior ornamental species of Hamelia called the 'African firebush' has propelled this genus to greater prominence as an excellent small flowering shrub or container plant, especially throughout the southeastern United States and in other countries such as South Africa. Initially, this firebush was sold as an African plant. Data from field studies, herbarium specimens, and from DNA analysis of several taxa and populations of Hamelia show that the African firebush in southern Florida originated from populations of Hamelia patens var. glabra native to southern Mexico. The original plants were taken to Europe, southern Africa, and southeastern Asia probably in the mid to late 1800s and then recently re-introduced to New World markets as a new African ornamental plant.