Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Red bird of Paradise
Noted for its striking, orange and red flowers, this evergreen grows eight to twelve feet tall with wide, spreading branches. It has deep green, fernlike foliage and produces showy blossoms that bloom profusely in spring through summer. The flowers are bowl-shaped in terminal clusters with red and orange petals and bright red stamens that extend from the bloom. After flowering, hard, flat, three-inch, brown pods appear with small, brown beans inside.
The beans are toxic if eaten. This plant is easy to grow in well-draining, acidic, or alkaline soils. It is also drought-tolerant and blooms profusely with supplemental irrigation. It is hardy to fifteen degrees Fahrenheit with stem damage below thirty degrees. If frost-damaged, prune it back to about twelve inches above the ground during its dormant period. Cut to live wood to hasten new growth when the weather warms. The plant re-seeds by itself in the landscape and in tropical locations. It likes full sun and reflected heat and can take the hottest spot in the landscape.
Use it for its magnificent spring and summer color as a specimen, in masses around pools, as a tropical accent, along roadways and medians, or mixed into desert and transitional landscapes. The flower will also attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The red bird of paradise is native to the West Indies and tropical Americas.It has been naturalized in Texas and is widely cultivated throughout the warm regions of the world. The variety ‘Phoenix Yellow Bird’ resembles the red bird of paradise except the blooms are all yellow. The ‘Phoenix’ varieties have the same cultural requirements as Caesalpinia pulcherrima.