(Sacred flower of the Incas) Instead of red flowers, this variety of Cantua buxifolia features long tubular blossoms that are medium yellow with white, trumpet-like corollas. They hang upside down in clusters of 12 or more from mid-green foliage. This long blooming, water-loving South American shrub is popular with hummingbirds and butterflies.
When planted in ground where winters are mild, Sacred Flower of the Incas is a short and sprawling evergreen. In its native lands, this heat tolerant plant is found on the margins of forests. In contrast, it's a favorite for container planting in North America. For best results, give it rich, well-drained soil, regular watering, and a setting from full sun to partial shade.
Mostly known as "Kantu" or "Cantuta" in Peru and Bolivia where it is considered a national flower, Cantua buxifolia also grows in the Yungas mountains of Northern Argentina. Aside from reds and bicolor flowers like White Lightning, some varieties are pink or yellow. Cantua is a Latinization of qantu -- the species' original name from the native Quechuan people of the Andes. Buxifolia refers to the shrub's boxwood-style foliage. Considered sacred in Andean cultures, reddish Kantu flowers often are used decoratively during holy days. Kantu is a word also used to describe musical groups that play Andean flutes similar to pan pipes.