Loeselia mexicana

Thanks to retired UBC BG staff member David Tarrant for sending along today’s photograph. Much appreciated! David also made suggestions for the written part of the entry, which I’ve incorporated below.

Loeselia mexicana (close-up image) is a woody perennial member of the phlox family. In Mexico, it is most commonly known as espinosilla. An English common name used is Mexican false calico. David writes that it is widely distributed locally to where he lives in the high central desert area of Mexico (Guanajuato and neighbouring Querétaro). Some reports mention that its range extends into Texas, but it is not shown in the USDA PLANTS database as occurring in the state (though Loeselia greggii is found there).

Folk medicinal use of this species by indigenous peoples as an antipyretic, antidiarrheal and antiseptic has led to modern research into its medicinal properties, e.g., Garcia et al. 2006. Antifungal and Antibacterial Activity of Four Selected Mexican Medicinal Plants. Pharmaceutical Biology. 44(4):297-300, with a conclusion of “the methanol extract from Loeselia mexicana showed the best antifungal activity against dermatophytes“.

David also commented that “its normal blooming time ends with the last of the rains in October. However, many plants still continue to bloom long after their spiny foliage has faded and turned brown, and its scarlet flowers create a great food source for hummingbirds well into November and early December.”

Loeselia mexicana

10 responses to “Loeselia mexicana”

  1. Meg Bernstein

    So pretty!!

  2. Alice Rogers

    Absolutely beautiful. Resembles our American trumpet vine.

  3. Lori Rob

    So far this is my favorite botany photo of the day!

  4. Sue Vargas

    Nothing like a hot orange flower to warm the heart in freezing cold Michigan! Thanks!

  5. Bet

    So beautiful! Can you find it in the States?

  6. Eleanor Ryan

    This lovely polemonium with red flowers used by hummingbirds, seems to be one of many such flowers from Mexico. In our garden we have Pineapple Sage also red flowered and blooming in late Sept until frost cuts in down in our Eugene OR garden. I would love to see more plants from Mexico. Eleanor

  7. elizabeth a airhart

    feliz navidad david tarrant
    this flower looks so close to flowers
    we have in florida thatthe hummers like
    on the 2nd link one may click on the
    icon top of the page to read in english
    thank you all per usual

  8. Brent

    Flowers are remarkably similar to Onagraceae’s Epilobium (=Zauschneria), but this Polemoniaceae’s leaf morphology is quite different from the former.
    Interesting that they appear to be only distantly related – how is it that they have such similar flowers?

  9. Eric in SF

    Brent – sounds like classic convergent evolution. Loeselia mexicana and Epilobium canum share overlapping and/or adjacent ranges, so it makes sense they would evolve similar pollinator attractant methods.

  10. Charles Tubesing

    This plant also looks very similar to Ipomopsis rubra (same family). Seasons Greetings David! Does it have malodorous foliage like Ipomopsis?

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