Mexican Bird of Paradise
Fabaceae, Pea Family
Shrub or multi-stemmed tree
Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, central and northern Mexico
Living Desert Location:
Demonstration Garden, Chase Administration (Lurie Patio)
This shrub-like tree has landscape value as a small patio tree or background shrub, and is attractive to hummingbirds.
Mexican Bird of Paradise has another common name, Mexican Holdback. This attractive, shrub-like tree is not a native of California but rather Texas and Mexico. It grows best in full sun or partial shade and is a low water use plant species; however, it does look its best with occasional irrigation. It gets 10 to 20 feet tall and has a spread of 12 to 18 feet.
It is widely cultivated as an ornamental because of its beautiful spikes of solid yellow flower clusters on branch terminals. The flowers can get up to 6 inches long and bloom early spring through the summer.
Unlike many Caesalpinia species, this flowering perennial is not thorny, and its leaflets are more round than other Caesalpinias. Some people regard the plant as messy due to its tendency to often drop its pods, spent flowers and branches. Periodic pruning can remove weak or dead stems and select the stronger trunk.
This plant is easily propagated by seed and requires scarification.