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Bird of Paradise


Caesalpinia gillesii (Non-native)

Caesalpinia gilliesii, commonly called bird-of-paradise, is an evergreen (semi-deciduous to deciduous in the northern parts of its growing range) shrub or small tree in the pea family that typically grows to 10’ tall but occasionally rises to as much as 15’. It is native to subtropical areas of Argentina and Uruguay. Still, it is widely grown in tropical and warm temperate regions worldwide for its attractive yellow flowers with bright red stamens, which bloom in summer in upright open racemes on branches clad with fern-like bipinnate compound green leaves.

Several years ago, introduced into the southwestern U.S., where it has now escaped gardens and naturalized from California and Nevada to Oklahoma and Texas, plus Georgia. It is unrelated to the Strelitzia reginae of South Africa, which is a more diminutive clump-forming perennial that is also commonly known as bird-of-paradise.

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-11 (perhaps Zone 7 in a protected location) is quickly grown in medium moisture, moderately fertile, well-drained soils in full sun. It tolerates some light shade, but the best flowers occur in full sun. Established plants have good drought tolerance. Prune to shape as needed. Generally survives temperatures to 30 degrees F. (sometimes with brief dips into the high 20s). They were becoming propagated by seed.

Height: 7’-10’
Spread: 7’-10’
Bloom: July-August
Light: Full Sun
Water: Low
Zone: 8, 9, 10, 11
Origin: Argentina, Uruguay

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