in Tucson, Phoenix,
and Southern California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, and Southern California

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Caesalpinia pulcherrima: Pride-of-Barbados / Red Bird of Paradise

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Form: Shrub.
Leaf retention: Deciduous.
Growth rate: Moderate to rapid.
Mature Size: 5-10' tall and wide.
Flowers: Flowers with yellow, orange and red petals and long red stamens.
Bloom: Spring, summer, and fall.
Fruit: Seed pods open suddenly, scattering bean-like seeds.
Leaves: Small, green, compound leaflets.
Stems: Sharp thorns.
Roots: A nitrogen-fixing legume*.
Wildlife: Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
Toxic / Danger: Thorns. Seeds are toxic. Rest of plant mildly poisonous.
Origin: Central America, Caribbean.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8b-12. May die to ground in 8b-9a.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun. Needs southern exposure in zones 8b-9a.
Water once established: Once or twice a month to weekly depending upon appearance.
Soil: Well drained, pH 6.1-8.5 (slightly acidic to alkaline). *Do not use a nitrogen fertilizer.
Mulch: Heavily in fall to protect roots where winter freezes occur.
Prune: In spring to remove winter damage. Some gardeners cut to ground in late fall.
Litter: Low: seeds and empty seedpods.
Propagation: Seed.
Uses: Ornamental.

The butterfly is a Pipevine Swallowtail. A cultivar, C. pulcherrima 'Phoenix Bird', has pure yellow flowers without a trace of red.

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