Scientific: Dichrostachys cinerea 
Common: Kalahari Christmas tree, Chinese lantern tree, bell mimosa
Family: Fabaceae
Origin: Africa to India, Southern Thailand and Malaysia. Also found in the Northern Territories of Australia where it has naturalized.

Pronounciation: Dee-crow-STA-keys sin-AIR-ee-a

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 13-24
USDA 10-12

Landscape Use: Small accent tree with interesting form and line characteristics. Best used as an accent patio tree where the intricacies of its flowers can be viewed up close. Good for either residential of commercial landscape plantings. Makes a great bonsai tree!

Form & Character: Partially deciduous large shrub or small tree, informal, open, irregularly upright and rounded.

Growth Habit: Quite variable and irregular, though in general it is slow to moderate growing to 25 feet height with near equal spread.

Foliage/texture: Leaves bipinnate, 1 to 4 inches long, with 5-10 pairs of pinnae, each one with 10-30 pairs of minute folioles; medium fine texture.

Flowers & fruits: Colorful, unique pink and yellow flowers, spicate, solitary on a bracteate, short shoot, 2 to 3 inches long including the glabrous to puberulous peduncle. Fruits are a glabrous pod, green when maturing and brown when mature, narrowly oblong and variously curved and/or coiled, 2 to 3 inches long, 1/10 inch wide, blackish, glabrous. Seeds biconvex, elliptic to subcircular, pale tan, glossy; pleurogram elliptic.

Seasonal color: Flowers in late summer and autumn into early winter.

Temperature: Cold hardy to 27oF

Light: Full sun

Soil: This tree needs well drained soil

Watering: Infrequent deep irrigations; use water to control growth rate.

Pruning: Must elevate canopy base strongly to desired height training rigorously when young to establish upright habit. Naturally will assume a shrub habit.

Propagation: Seed easy with acid scarification (95% sulfuric acid for 30 minutes followed by intense rinse in water). Also, can propagate by use of root cuttings.

Disease and pests: Various root rot pathogens can infect Chinese lantern tree if soil is excessively wet or poorly drained leading to sudden death.

Additional comments: This is a rather rare small accent tree for xeric landscape designs in the Phoenix area. Otherwise, it is often considered to be invasive in tropical ecosystems where it has a tendency to produce root suckers that grow into dense thickets. The fruit pods are used for livestock feed in tropical regions.