in Tucson, Phoenix,
and Southern California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, and Southern California

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Caesalpinia mexicana: Mexican Holdback / Mexican Bird of Paradise

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Form: Large multi-stemmed shrub that can be pruned into a tree.
Leaf retention: Evergreen but frost-deciduous.
Growth rate: Rapid.
Mature Size: 10-15' high and wide where winter temperatures allow.
Flowers: Bright yellow, slightly fragrant flower spikes on branch tips.
Bloom: Spring, summer, possibly into fall, depending on local microclimate.
Fruit: Tan seed pod that opens explosively to eject bean-like seeds.
Leaves: Dark green oval leaflets.
Stems: No thorns.
Roots: A nitrogen-fixing legume*.
Wildlife: Attracts insects.
Toxic / Danger: Seeds are poisonous.
Origin: Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 9-11.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun.
Water once established: Once a month. More often improves flowering.
Soil: Well drained, pH 5.6-7.8 (acidic to slightly alkaline). *Do not use a nitrogen fertilizer.
Prune: After date of last frost to remove winter damage and to control size.
Litter: Moderate to high.
Propagation: Seed.
Uses: Ornamental.

Former scientific name: Poinciana mexicana.

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