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Red Bird of Paradise Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Previously known as:

  • Caesalpinia pulcherrima f. flava
  • Caesalpinia pulcherrima var. insignis
  • Poinciana pulcherrima
Phonetic Spelling
ses-al-PIN-ee-uh pul-CHER-ee-muh
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

The Pride of Barbados is an evergreen shrub or small tree that is a member of the Fabaceae or legume family. It is originally from Mexico and the Caribbean and has beautiful showy orange-red flowers, fern-like leaves, and prickles on its stems and branches. It is the national flower of Barbados. It may also be known as Barbados Flower Fence, Barbados Pride, Dwarf Poinciana, Peacock Flower, and Red Bird of Paradise. The genus, Caesalpinia, is named in honor of the 16th-century botanist, philosopher, and physician, Andreas Caesalpini. The species name, pulcher, is Latin and means beauty.

The Pride of Barbados is a deciduous shrub in zone 9 and perennial in zone 8. In the tropics, it may grow 15-20 feet tall and equally as wide. The flowers are clusters of orange-red blossoms with long red stamens. They blossom most of the year in the tropics. In climates where frost occurs, the flowers appear late summer and fall. After flowering, the fruits appear which are pod-like. When they ripen, the pods split open and disperse the small seeds. The seeds contain tannic acid that is poisonous and can result in gastrointestinal discomfort if ingested. Exercise caution if using this specimen in areas frequented by children or pets.

Hot humid weather and full sun ensure flowering. It is intolerant of poorly drained soils. Once it matures it tolerates some drought. During the growing season, they perform best if watered deeply but infrequently. Pruning may be needed to maintain its shape. It may be best to avoid planting this shrub near patios or walkways due to its prickly stems and branches.  Used as a specimen, accent, or border, it would add beautiful color in a sunny, hot, and humid area. The flowers also attract hummingbirds and butterflies. They are considered deer resistant.

In terms of pests and diseases, the shrub may develop scale and may be susceptible to mushroom root rot in poorly drained soil.

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Phoenix'
    Yellow flowers
'Phoenix'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#showy flowers#small tree#drought tolerant#yellow flowers#orange flowers#winter interest#flowering tree#hedges#prickly#screening#evergreen shrub#evergreen tree#butterfly friendly#problem for cats#problem for dogs#tropical feel
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Phoenix'
    Yellow flowers
'Phoenix'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#showy flowers#small tree#drought tolerant#yellow flowers#orange flowers#winter interest#flowering tree#hedges#prickly#screening#evergreen shrub#evergreen tree#butterfly friendly#problem for cats#problem for dogs#tropical feel
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Caesalpinia
    Species:
    pulcherrima
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    In South America, indigenous tribes used the juice from the plant to treat fever, heal sores, and relieve coughing. In Mexico, the green seed pods are cooked and eaten. The plant has also been used to make inks and dyes. The flowers are popular in Hawaii for making lei.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, West Indies
    Distribution:
    Angela, Argentina, Arizona, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Calfornia, Cambodia, China Southcentral, China Southeast, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Florida, Haiti, India, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico Southwest, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Southwest Caribbean, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Texas, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, Zaire
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 6 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Multi-trunked
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
    Appendage:
    Prickles
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    9b, 9a, 10b, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Waxy lima bean-shaped pods appear after the flowers bloom. They are 3-6 inches long and are initially green in color, then transition to red and eventually to a shiny brown. They contain 8-10 dark brown to black colored seeds. The seeds are about 1/4 inch in diameter. The pods split open when they mature and disperse the seeds. The seeds contain gallic and tannic acid and are poisonous.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The flowers bloom in late summer. In tropical climates, they may bloom all year round. They have bright orangish-yellow petals with 10 prominent 6 inch long bright red stamens. The individual bloom measures 2-3 inches wide and appears in 4-10 inch clusters or racemes. Each raceme has up to 40 flowers and appears on the end of the branch.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Insignificant
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are feathery, fern-like, bluish-green in color, and 8-10 inches long. They are usually evergreen, but they may be deciduous in areas near the edge of their growing range. They have bipinnately compound leaves. Each leaf has 5-8 pinnae and 6-10 leaflets per pinnae. Each oval leaflet is about 3/4 inches long.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Bark Description:
    The bark of a young specimen is usually purplish-red and has prickles. As it matures, the bark becomes grayish-brown, smoother, but may retain prickles.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Leaf Scar Shape:
    Round
    Stem Surface:
    Covered with a powdery bloom (glaucous)
    Stem Description:
    The stems and twigs are thin, purplish-red in color with white glaucous bloom and sharp prickles. The leaf scars are raised and rounded.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Flowering Tree
    Hedge
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Children
    Problem for Dogs
    Spines/Thorns
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Signs of poisoning included labored breathing, eye discharge, or vomiting, and diarrhea.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    The leaves contain hydrogen cyanide, and the seeds and seed pods contain tannins.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Leaves
    Seeds