SCARLET-BUSH - Coralillo

All through tropical America, from Mexico to Paraguay, if you're traveling where there's enough rainfall to support forest at least 20 feet high (6m), the vegetation is weedy and the soil is halfway rich, if you see a head-high shrub aflame with many bright clusters of slender-tubed, red flowers like those shown below, probably you have the Scarlet-Bush, Hamelia patens, a member of the Coffee Family, the Rubiaceae.


If you like to take butterfly pictures you can't do much better than to just stand next to a Scarlet-Bush and wait for butterflies to come.

A Maya friend, who called it KanĂ¡n, had a high opinion of Scarlet-Bush's medicinal value: "Combine its leaves with those of Pomegranate and Guava, brew a tea from the mixture, and you can cure skin sores by washing the skin with the tea. The tea is also good to swish around in your mouth when it's inflamed and sore. And if you cut yourself, you heal better if you toast its leaves on the comal, grind them to a fine powder, and sprinkle the powder in the wound."