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Bushy evergreen shrub up to 3m tall. Leaves glossy, deep green and spiny, up to 4cm long, resembling holly leaves. Flowers solitary (not clustered together); tubular corolla (fused petals) up to 9cm long, bright orange-scarlet with five yellow, shallow lobes and five stamens attached to corolla just below lobes. Fruits spherical (globose) berries.


  • The spiny desfontainia grows with other shrubs in woodlands of tall Fitzroya cupressoides trees.
  • The leaves are used as a source of yellow dye.

Where it grows

Native to Andean Chile and Peru, the spiny desfontainia grows in shady areas with almost constant rainfall at an altitude of 500–2000m.


  • Berry: simple fruit with one or more seeds immersed in a fleshy pulp; seeds not surrounded by hard seed coat as with drupes.
  • Corolla: floral structure resembling fused petals, usually creating a tube.