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Products > Galvezia speciosa 'Bocarosa'
Galvezia speciosa 'Bocarosa' - Island Snapdragon
Image of Galvezia speciosa 'Bocarosa'
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figworts)
Origin: California (U.S.A.)
California Native (Plant List): Yes
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Red
Bloomtime: Summer/Fall
Synonyms: [Gambelia speciosa, G. 'Boca Rosa']
Height: 4-5 feet
Width: 4-5 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25° F
Galvezia speciosa 'Bocarosa' (Island Snapdragon) - This California native shrub forms a dense mound with arching stems reaching to 4 feet tall or taller if provided with support and hold oval bright green leaves. In the late winter through early fall it produces tubular 1-inch-long bright red flowers which are flared at the lip, resembling small snapdragon flowers, with the weight of the flowers at the tips weighing down the long slender branches.

Plant in full sun to moderate shade in well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant, especially if planted in shade, and hardy to about 20-25 degrees F. This tough plant is very adaptable and can be hedged or even pruned annually to its crown at ground level in late winter to keep the foliage fresh and its size down. Galvezia speciosa is native to rocky canyons and bluffs in coastal sage scrub below 3,000 feet on San Clemente and Santa Catalina Island and in the Santa Barbara Channel Islands with a disjunct population on Guadalupe Island off of southern Baja California. It is included in the CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants on list 1B.2 (rare, threatened, or endangered in CA and elsewhere).

There are two cultivars generally available in the horticultural trade; 'Firecracker', introduced by Tree of Life Nursery in 1986, is a compact plant with hairy leaves and flower calyces and 'Bocarosa', selected by the Saratoga Horticultural Foundation in 1980, which has glabrous bright green leaves and is particularly floriferous. The cultivar name translates from Spanish meaning "red lips" and while we long listed it as two words ('Boca Rosa') when introduced by the Saratoga Horticultural Foundation they combined it to 'Bocarosa' so we now follow this spelling.

According to Peter Riedel in his Plants for Extra-Tropical Regions, Galvezia speciosa was first introduced into California in 1900 by the Italian botanist Dr. Francesco Franceschi (AKA Emanuele Orazio Fenzi), who established his nursery in Santa Barbara.

The name for the genus honors José Gálvez (1720's–1787), a Spanish administrator. There are 5 species in the genus with 2 (G. speciosa and G. juncea) found in the California floristic province and the others in South America or the Galapagos Islands. The "new" name as listed in the Jepson Manual for this plant is Gambelia speciosa, a name honoring William Gambel (1821-1849), a medical doctor, explorer and good friend and assistant of Thomas Nuttall, arguably the greatest American field naturalist. Gambel explored Southern California in 1841-42, including Santa Catalina Island where he discovered this plant that Nuttall first named to honor his friend. The great American Botanist Asa Gray later reduced it to a species of Antirrhinum as Antirrhinum speciosum and it was later combined with South American plants in the genus Galvezia. More recent phylogenetic work on the Antirrhinum clade found that these northern American plants were more distantly related and the former name was resurrected. Somewhat confusingly, there is a genus of Long-nosed Leopard lizards (Gambelia sp. that also honors William Gambel. Gambel's Quail (Callipepla gambelii) and Gambel's Oak (Quercus gambelii) are also named for this accomplished man who died so young at age 28. We continue to use the name Galvezia until such time that Gambelia speciosa gets wider recognition in the nursery trade. 

This information about Galvezia speciosa 'Bocarosa' displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.