Stunning blood-red sepals of Mussaenda erythrophylla!

Mussaenda erythrophylla (Ashanti Blood, Red Flag Bush, Tropical Dogwood)

Blood-red bracts of Mussaenda erythrophylla, captured November 5, 2007 Wow! What a stunning beauty!

Just look at that vibrant red flower clusters, how fabulously attractive they are…a sight for sore eyes, a cheerleader and definitely a traffic stopper!

We’re so excited with this new baby that joined our garden family two weeks ago on November 4, 2007! :D

Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :

  • Botanical Name: Mussaenda erythrophylla
  • Common Name: Ashanti Blood, Red Flag Bush, Red Mussaenda, Prophet’s Tears, Tropical Dogwood, Virgin Tree.
  • Family name: Rubiaceae
  • Plant type: Tropical shrub or tree native to tropical West Africa.
  • Light: Prefers full sun, but can tolerate semi-shade
  • Moisture: Needs moderate water regularly but do not overwater. It must be watered during spells of hot and dry weather as it is not drought tolerant.
  • Soil: Grow best in well-drained loamy soil.
  • Propagation: From softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings, air layering and from seeds though rarely available.
  • Features: An ornamental shrub or tree that can reach a height of 30 ft, though in cultivation ranges from 3 to 10 feet tall. A semi-deciduous rambling shrub with multiple stems, covered with opposite leaves that are medium to dark green, round to ovate, 3-6 inches long, pubescent and strongly veined. Macro picture of Mussaenda erythrophylla 'Ashanti Blood' (Red Flag Bush) It flowers almost non-stop through the year with several flowers borne in branching terminal panicles. Each flower is composed of a small creamish white corolla that is five-lobed (0.8 inch across), funnel-shaped with a crimson-red felt center and pubescent beneath, together with a single roundish-ovate and enlarged bright red sepal (bract) measuring 2-5 inches. It is these stunning blood red sepals that led it to be commonly named ‘Ashanti Blood’ or ‘Red Flag Bush’. This very attractive cultivar, Mussaenda erythrophylla, together with Mussaenda philippica ‘Aurorae’ are the proud parents of the horticultural hybrid, Mussaenda ‘Queen Sirikit’, that was developed in the Philippines and has gorgeous pale pink sepals and is one of the most spectacular of mussaendas.
  • Our potted Red Mussaenda, located at the left side of garden borderUsage: Since Red Mussaenda is a year-round performer, it is most ideal as an ornamental plant in parks and public gardens or along roadsides, streets, byways and highways. Great for landscapping as a single decorative specimen or amidst a crowd of low-growing plants in a border. It would fit beautifully in home gardens too, either in containers or ground. Attractive to butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and insect pollinators as a nectar plant.
  • Care: Mussaenda ‘Ashanti Blood’ loves hot and humid environment, so locate it where it can receive full sun to induce best flower color and continuous flowering. Prune after blooming to shape and get a bushier shrub with more branching, resulting in more flowers. It has a tendency to become straggly and leggy, so prune heavily which it can tolerate, if necessary. There are no known serious insect or disease problems but do watch for spider mites and whiteflies.
  • For temperate regions: Peruse this informative fact sheet on Mussaendas from the University of Florida

Update December 2007:
More recent images of Mussaenda ‘Ashanti Blood’ from our garden!

Last edit: May 29, 2016

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13 Responses to “Stunning blood-red sepals of Mussaenda erythrophylla!”

  1. Donald Simcoe Says:

    We wish to buy th mussaenda erythrophylla. Can you help us find a supplier?

  2. Jacqueline Says:

    Hello Donald! You may want to try at TopTropical Botanical Garden in Florida. It has a fantastic collection of tropical plants, though I’m not sure whether Mussaenda ‘Ashanti Blood’ is available. Explore their awesome website for more information and direction here!
    Hope this info is helpful. All the very best in your search! :)

  3. Ligia Says:

    You can order red mussaenda at I already ordered mines today.

  4. Amy Says:

    Hi, I have a Mussaenda in my front yard but the leaves have turned yellow and it’s straggly, should I prune it, and if so how much? also the yellowing leaves is a nutrient deficiency?
    I’d appreciate help with this plat as it’s one of my mother’s favorites.

  5. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi Amy! I cannot confirm whether yellowing of leaves is a nutrient deficiency but I do know that this happened to our potted plant when there was a sudden change of weather from weeks of wet rainy days to hot sunny season. Leaves turned yellow and started to fall, leaving the shrub leggy like yours. So, sometime late July, we gave it a drastic prune, almost three-quarters off. But, in less than 4.5 months it had come bouncing back luxuriantly to almost its previous height. A vigorous grower that can take hard pruning very well. How lovely, just in time to decorate our garden for Christmas! :D

  6. Christmas Plant in our garden - December 2007 | John&Jacq~s Garden Says:

    […] is none other than the beautiful Mussaenda erythrophylla ‘Ashanti Blood’ which displays vividly the vibrant colors of Christmas – red and […]

  7. Rusty Says:

    You say that this plant can range to 30 ft high, but in cultivation it ranges from 3-10 ft. As I am a novice gardener I am not quite sure what “in cultivation” means, but I am interested in limiting the height to a max of 10 ft (more ideally 8 ft). How do I accomplish this? A friend told me that plants will not grow too tall if they are not fertilized too frequently, but I want to take full advantage of this plants beautiful flowers and fear that infrequent fertilization will affect that characteristic.

  8. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi Rusty!
    If allowed to grow unhindered especially in the wild, it can be very tall. But when grown in home gardens or parks where it is properly tendered and PRUNED REGULARLY, one can maintain a much lower height according to one’s preference. Feeding it once monthly is ideal. Nonetheless, it is a fast grower with lanky stems and the only way to limit its height is to trim it hard frequently after flowering.

  9. Autumn Belle Says:

    Jacqueline, I link to you today. My post today is about Queen Sirikit Mussaenda. The link is as follows:

    I hope viewers can see pictures of your mussaenda too.

  10. Jacqueline Says:

    Thank you so much, Autumn Belle!
    Hope to visit you shortly, I’m convinced you have a lovely article with beautiful pics on Mussaenda ‘Queen Sirikit’ to enjoy.

  11. Santhosh Says:

    Nice article! Just a correction – the family name is Nyctaginaceae (instead of rubiaceae) :)

  12. Jacqueline Says:

    Thanks, Santhosh!
    Re family name, it is Rubiaceae as confirmed at The Plant List and many other trustworthy botanical sites.

  13. Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day for March | enclos*ure Says:

    […] Since we arrived in Rwanda in September, I have been telling people that this is a poinsettia, a shrub that can also get really large in frost-free climates. But after identifying our orange and white Mussaenda frondosa last month, I realized that it is a Mussaenda erythrophylla. […]

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