Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Red Bird-of-Paradise

Red Bird-of-Paradise flowers are showy large orange, red and yellow on an erect flowering stem known as a raceme. The flowers are considered to be among the most beautiful or pretty anywhere and the plants are called the Pride of Barbados where they are native. Caesalpinia pulcherrimaRed Bird-of-Paradise bloom from May to November and year-round in frost-free areas. The fruits are thin flat pods up to 3 or 4 inches long. Seeds are brown or black. The pods split open and the seeds are ejected at maturity. Caesalpinia pulcherrimaRed Bird-of-Paradise have green semi-evergreen leaves in frost-free areas. The leaves are compound; bipinnate (twice pinnate) and each leaf has 6 to 12 pair of “pinnae” and each pinnae with 6 to 12 pair of leaflets.  Caesalpinia pulcherrimaRed Bird-of-Paradise have stems with sharp prickles that are more than just irritating! The plants are small trees or shrubs and often grow into a dense thorny (prickly) hedges which is also why they are sometimes called “Barbados Fenceposts”. Caesalpinia pulcherrimaRed Bird-of-Paradise is the National Flower of Barbados where it is called the Pride of Barbados and blooms year-round. In North America the plants are exotic found in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. Beautiful plants! Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Scientific Name: Caesalpinia pulcherrima
Common Name: Red Bird-of-Paradise

Also Called: Barbados Fencepost, Dwarf Poinciana, Mexican Bird-of-Paradise, Peacock Flower, Poinciana, Pride-of-Barbados, Red Bird-of-Paradise; (Spanish: Barba del Sol, Tetezo, Flamboyant-de-Jardin, Flor de Camarón, Flos Pavonis, Tabachín, Tabaquín, Talcapache,-de Guacamaya).

Family: Fabaceae or Leguminosae Family

Synonyms: (Poinciana pulcherrima)

Status: Naturalized - escapee from cultivation.

Duration: Perennial

Size: 9 feet (3 m) or more, taller in frost-free areas.

Growth Form: Shrub or small Tree; stems with sharp prickles; plants grow into dense thorny hedges giving rise to another common name Barbados Fencepost.

Leaves: Green; semi-evergreen in frost-free areas, compound, bipinnate (twice pinnate), each leaf has 6 to 12 pairs of pinnae and each with 8 to 12 pairs of leaflets.

Flower Color: Orange and/or red and/or yellow petals; flower inflorescence a raceme; fruit a thin flat pod up to 3 or 4 inches long, seed brown or black, pods split open and seeds are ejected at maturity.

Flowering Season: May through November; year round in tropical areas.

Elevation: Up to 2,000 feet (666.6 m) - estimated, no data found

Habitat Preferences: No data found

Recorded Range: Red Bird-of-Paradise is an exotic that grows in AZ, CA, FL and TX.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Caesalpinia pulcherrima.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 24 species and 24 accepted taxa overall for Caesalpinia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 162 accepted species names and a further 66 scientific names of infraspecific rank for Caesalpinia.

In the Southwestern United States Texas has 7 species of Caesalpinia, Arizona and California each have 3 species and Nevada, New Mexico and Utah each have 1 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.

Comments: Red Bird-of-Paradise is the National Flower of Barbados where it is called the Pride of Barbados and blooms year round. According to "Go Barbados", ( the earliest references to this beautiful flowering shrub date back to 1657.

The University of Arizona, Campus Arboretum web-page for Caesalpinia pulcherrima has excellent information here regarding the natural history and Ethnobotany of this species.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see Bird-of-Paradise Shrub, Caesalpinia gilliesii.

The genus Caesalpinia is named in honor of Andrea Cesalpino (1519-1603) of Italy. Mr. Cesalpino was first a botanist, but also a physician, philosopher and naturalist. The species epithet "pulcherrima" means most pretty or prettiest.

Click here to see the University of Arizona Campus Arboretum web-page for the Ethnobotany of Caesalpinia pulcherrima.
Date Profile Completed:10/19/2019
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 10/10/2019 )
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 10/10/2019).
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet (accessed 10/09/2019). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Caesalpinia pulcherrima', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 15 September 2019, 09:09 UTC, [accessed 13 October 2019]
Missouri Botanical Garden; Plant Finder; (accessed 10/15/2019)
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information, (accessed 10/09/2019).
The University of Arizona, Campus Arboretum, Caesalpinia pulcherrima
ETYMOLOGY: Michael L. Charters; California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology; (accessed 09/15/2017)
Go Barbados - Informational website, (accessed 10/15/2019).