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An evergreen shrub up to 4 or 6 ft high, of bushy habit; young shoots rather downy and very glutinous. Leaves opposite, narrowly oblong or oblanceolate, shortly pointed, tapered at the base to a short stalk, margins recurved and slightly toothed, 2 to 4 in. long, 3⁄8 to 3⁄4 in. wide, dark shining green and glabrous above, pale and slightly downy beneath. Flowers produced singly in the leaf-axils of the growing shoots. Corolla trumpet-shaped, the tube 1 to 11⁄4 in. long, dividing at the mouth into five lobes and there 3⁄4 in. wide; variable in colour but perhaps typically yellow or orange. Calyx tubular, distinctly five-ribbed, nearly as long as the corolla-tube, green, glutinous, with five small, erect, awl-shaped teeth; flower-stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Seed-vessel 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, slender, ribbed.
Native of California; cultivated late in the 18th century and probably introduced by Menzies. It is usually grown in a cool greenhouse, where it is valued for the succession of blossoms borne throughout the summer by the young growing shoots. It does well as a wall plant in the south-west, flowering there in the winter months, and is worth trying in cooler districts on a sunny wall.
The plant known as M. puniceus (Nutt.) Steud., figured in Bot. Mag., t. 3655 appears to be no more than a form of M. aurantiacus, differing in the redder flowers. It was discovered and introduced to an American nursery by Thomas Nuttall, who also described it. The nursery passed the whole stock to the British firm Messrs Lowe of Clapton in 1837.