Scientific: Caesalpinia pulcherrima (formerly known as Poinciana pulcherrima)
Common: red bird-of-paradise, Barbados pride, dwarf Poinciana, ayoowiri
Family: Leguminosae (Fabaceae)
Origin: West Indies, Mexico

Pronounciation: Say-sal-PIN-ee-a pul-chi-REE-ma

Hardiness zones
Sunset
12-16, 18-23
USDA 9-11

Landscape Use: This is a large seasonal accent shrub for big splashes of bright summer color, quick screen

Form & Character: Upright to sometimes sprawling, open, festive, warm, attracting, tropical to Mediterranean style.

Growth Habit: Partially deciduous, soft-wood producing shrub (evergreen in mild winters), vigorous to 10 feet or more in height with equal to greater spread, especially if well irrigated.

Foliage/texture: Leaves twice pinnately compound, leaflets to 3/4 inch and less, new stems and foliage are reddish to purple, gray-green when mature, younger stems have soft and flexible spines; medium fine texture.

Flowers & fruits: Flowers a brilliant mix of yellow, orange to red, clustered with long stamens, fruits elongated and flattened pods, reddish green when immature changing to dull brown when mature, persistent.

Seasonal color: Festive warm flower colors in hot summer. Flowering most intense before the summer monsoon.

Temperature: This shrub loves the desert summer heat! However, it typically freezes to the ground in Phoenix each winter if left unprotected.

Light: Full sun, no shade.

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: Needs regular infrequent irrigations during the summer to look maintain vigor.

Pruning: Prune severely during height to control height and spread, even stooling to ground level (it will recover nicely). Also, responds to some heading back in August with additional floral displays in September/October.

Propagation: Vegetative softwood cuttings or seed. Sow seed fresh or acid scarify if older. On rare occassions red bird of paradise will reseed in the Phoenix landscapes.

Disease and pests: White flies in late summer love it like I like chocolate truffles ice cream.

Additional comments: Red bird of paradise is a wonderful large accent shrub that flourishes during in early summer when the Phoenix weather is hottest and other vegetation fades. It attracts hummingbirds and occasionally reseeds or spreads by root suckers in local urban landscape settings (not invasive though). There is a newer all yellow flowering cultivar from Desert Tree Farm Nursery in Phoenix, AZ called 'Phoenix Bird'. It has a somewhat slower growth rate and no red pigmentation in the leaves or stems. Other closely related shrub species seen in Phoenix landscapes include Erythrostemon gilliesii (bird-of-paradise bush) which has yellow flowers with protruding red stamens and grows to < 10 feet in height and Poincianella mexicana (Mexican bird-of-paradise) which has lemon yellow flowers and grows slowly in an arborescent fashion to 15 to 20 feet.

The genus Caesalpinina is named after the Italian botanist Andreas Caesalpini (1519-1603). Red bird of paradise was first used as an ornamental in Europe and later across the mild regions of the United States including recently landscapes in the central Arizona desert. In 1705, botanical explorer Maria Sibylla first described how West Indian slave women of Dutch masters would attempt to end their pregnancies by ingesting the red bird of paradise seeds from the fruit.