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Products > Cantua buxifolia
 
Cantua buxifolia - Flower of the Inca
   

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Polemoniaceae (Phlox)
Origin: Chile (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Orange Red
Bloomtime: Spring
Height: 4-8 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Cantua buxifolia (Flower of the Inca) An upright shrub that grows about 6' high with erect stems and arching branches holding small (1/2 to 1 inch long) semi-succulent gray-green leaves. In spring appear a profusion of orange to magenta pink flowers that have a long tube with a flaring mouth held on thin pedicels so the flowers dangle beneath - our form is a saturated orange color. Plant in full sun to light shade in a well-drained soil with regular to occasional irrigation. It is hardy to around 20 F but apparently dislikes hot inland conditions. In its natural habitat it is pollinated by hummingbirds so is a good plant to bring these birds into one's garden. It can be outrageous in bloom but is a somewhat untidy garden plant with a sprawling form and leafless stems so can benefit from staking several branches together and the pruning back of the longer stems but prune only just after flowering as the flowers are produced on the previous season's wood. Cantua buxifolia's natural habitat is in the high valleys of the Yungas, the forest along the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains where it can grow to be a small tree to 18 feet tall. It is the national flower of Peru and one of two national flowers of Bolivia (the other being Heliconia rostrata). The name for the genus is a Latinized version of the common name Qantu that was used by indigenous Incan people and the specific epithet refers to the resemblance of the leaves to those of a boxwood (Buxus). Besides the common name Flower of the Inca, this plant also is called Magic-flower, Magic-flower-of-the-Incas, Magictree, Sacred-flower-of-the-Incas and by the Incan names Qantu, Qantus or Qantuta. The plant is cited as being an key feature in Inca legends. Our thanks to Carol Bornstein for our first cuttings of this attractive plant.  This description is based on our research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We will also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information about this plant, in particular if this information is contrary to what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Cantua buxifolia.