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Caesalpinia pulcherrima     
Red bird of paradise   
Fabaceae Family     

Compiled by the Master Gardeners
of the University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension.


bird of paradise
Caesalpina pulcherrima (mixed cultivars)
Form: informal, vase-shaped, multistemmed shrub
Seasonality: officially evergreen; usually winter deciduous in Tucson
Size: 3-10ft with equal spread; more tree-like in warmer location
leaf form of Caesalpinia pulcherrima
Leaves: bipinnately compound, fern-like, many 3/4in leaflets; normally bright green turning red in winter, sometimes leafless in winter
Flowers: distinctive panicle of bright blooms; flowers are red, orange and yellow with long red stamens; on terminal ends of branches in summer
Fruit: hard brownish pod, 2.5in long, thin and flat, twists when drying, explosively dehiscent, poisonous
Stems/Trunks: inner portion of plant usually shows signs of having been cut back; small thorns look furry but are sharp
Range/Origin: West Indies; common throughout Sonoran deserts, naturalized in Texas
Hardiness: damaged at 32°F, with increasing damage as temperature decreases; killed to ground in teens, sometimes killed outright


orange and red flowers
C. pulcherrima flowers
yellow flowers
flowers on cultivar "Phoenix"



cultivar 'Phoenix' has bright yellow flowers

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This page was first created September 21, 2001 and last modified March 25, 2005.

Web page design and photographs by Toni Moore, Master Gardener
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