Odontonema cuspida (Fire-spike)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0004
  • Botanical Name: Odontonema cuspida 
  • Common Name: Fire-spike
  • Cultivar: N/A
  • Family: Acanthaceae
  • Native To: Central America
Odontonema cuspida 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Landscaping Information

  • Plant Type: Shrub
  • Texture:  Dense
  • Form: Upright-broad
  • Height (on average, in landscape use): 8'-10''
  • Height to Spread Ratio: 2:1
  • Growth Rate: Medium
  • Landscape Values: Background, Border, Color, Foundation, Framing, Hedge,  Screen
  • Outstanding Quality: Long inflorescences with vibrant red flowers. 
Odontenema cuspida 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Botanical Descriptions

  • Flowers: Long terminal inflorescences, individual flowers are red to scarlet about 1", Nectar-filled; attracts butterflies.
  • Fruits: 0.8" fruits with semicircular seeds. Not known to be edible.
  • Foliage Color: Young/immature: Soft, light green. Mature: Bright medium green to dark green, 
  • Foliage Tip:  Acute/Tapering
  • Foliage Base: Acute/Tapering
  • Petiole: Sessile or nearly sessile
  • Stipules: none
  • Margins: wavy, apex often curved
  • Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
  • Leaf Shape:  oblong to elliptic, 5"-12." x 1"-3.5"
  • Leaf Type: Simple
  • Leaf Texture: fleshy, waxy
  • Leaf Special Notes: leaf tip often curves
  • Bark and Trunk: square stemmed and glabrous. 
Odontonema cuspida leaves and inflorescence
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Horticultural Information

  • Light Preference: Semi-Sun, Full Sun.
  • Light Tolerances: Shade
  • Soil Preferences: Not Particular
  • Tolerances: Acidic,  Alkaline, Poor Drainage, Submerged Roots, Smog, Compacted Soil, Strong Winds, Moderate Winds, Humidity, Regular Watering, Drought
  • Water Requirements: Grows with both wet and dry soil conditions.
  • Notes on Maintenance:  Can be everblooming of pruned regularly. Full sun promotes compact, dense growth and long inflorescences. Prone to aphids and other pests.
  • Propagation: Cutting, Division
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 8a-11a
  • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): 7, High Risk
  • Botanical Illustrations:

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