Pride of Barbados
Caesalpinia pulcherrima is commonly known as peacock flower or Barbados Pride, a fast-growing upright shrub or small tree. It typically matures 10 feet tall as a shrub or 20 feet tall as a tree. Originally from tropical America (probably the West Indies), it grows widely in low areas worldwide due to its long blooms of colorful flowers arranged in upright racemes on prickly branches. The 5-petaled flower blooms in a bowl shape in a terminal raceme of 4-8" long (up to 40 flowers per raceme in tropical climates) from spring through fall. The orange-yellow petals contrast with the elongated dark red stamens. This shrub is also called dwarf poinciana because its flowers are similar (although smaller in size) to royal poinciana (Delonix regia).
The leaves of this species are feathery, twice pinnate, and green, but they can be deciduous near the edges of its range. There are 6-10 pairs of leaflets per pinna on each leaf, and each pinna has 5-8 pairs of pinnae. Flowers are followed by oblong, flat fruits (seed pods to 2.5-4" long), with each pod containing 8-10 dark brown to black seeds, which are ejected as the pod splits open at maturity. This shrub has sharp prickles along its stems, leading to the sometimes used common name of Barbados flower fence because of its use in the West Indies as a flowering barrier fence. Green seed pods are cooked and eaten in Mexico.
Quickly grown in full sun in medium moisture, fertile, well-drained soils in USDA Zones 9-11, it is winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11. Flowers are best in full sun but tolerate some light shade. Drought-tolerant plants are well established. Shape as needed with pruning. It usually survives temperatures up to 30 degrees F (sometimes with short dips into the high 20s).
Bloom: Seasonal Bloomer
Light: Full Sun
Zone: 9, 10, 11
Origin: Tropical Americas