Heimia salicifolia
Common Name: shrubby yellowcrest 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Lythraceae
Native Range: Southwestern United States to Argentina
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 6.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to October
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11 where it is easily grown in rich, moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers part shade. Do not allow soils to totally dry out. Where not winter hardy, plants may be grown in pots that are overwintered indoors in sunny locations.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Heimia salicifolia, known by a variety of common names including sinicuichi, narrow-leaf heimia, shrubby yellowcrest or sun opener, is a deciduous, densely-branched, flowering shrub of the loosestrife family that grows in the wild to 10’ tall and as wide. It is native to brushlands and the Rio Grande basin from the far southern tip of Texas south through Mexico and Central America to Argentina. This is a spreading shrub that features narrow green leaves, a spring to fall bloom of yellow flowers and somewhat attractive reddish stems. Solitary, short-stalked yellow flowers bloom from the leaf axils. Each flower (3/4” across) has a campanulate calyx, 5-7 petals, 10-13 stamens and a thin style. Petals drop soon after the flowers open. Willow-like, narrow-oblong to linear-lanceolate leaves are to 3.5” long. Fruits are dry rounded 4-celled capsules containing very tiny seeds.

Foliage of this shrub has been used medicinally and psychoactively dating back to the time of the Aztecs. Shamans continue to use this plant today. Leaves can be used dry or fresh for preparation of a tea (sinicuichi) which reportedly causes euphoric, time/place altered, muscle-relaxed and anti-inflammatory effects. Dried leaves are sometime smoked in cigarette form. Sinicuichi usage reportedly causes vision to become yellow tinted, hence the sometimes used common name of sun opener for this shrub. Notwithstanding some of the bizarre effects reportedly experienced by using sincuichi, this plant may be legally purchased, grown and used as an ornamental or otherwise in all 50 states.

Genus name honors Dr. Ernst Ludwig Heim (1747-1834), German physician.

Specific epithet comes from Salix (willow genus) and folia meaning leaves in reference to the willow-like shape of plant leaves.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

General purpose shrub for mild winter climates. Shrub borders.