Yellow flowers of the real Mexican Bird of Paradise

Caesalpinia mexicana

What is the small tree with yellow flowers and round leaves in Arizona?  The Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Bird of Paradise, is a flowering plant species in the pea family, Fabaceae. This drought tolerant, perennial tree is native to Mexico and the extreme lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

Caesalpinia mexicana
Mexican Bird of Paradise yellow flowering bush tree
bush with yellow flowers round leaves
Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Bird of Paradise

All parts of this Mexican plant are poisonous.  The showy Mexican Bird of Paradise shrub thrives in dry conditions.  Once the roots are established, they are drought tolerant.  

yellow flowers and round leaves bush shrub arizona texas
Mexican Bird of Paradise, caesalpinia mexicana

If you are looking for a small shade tree that is flowering and easy to care for; the Mexican Bird of Paradise is perfect for your yard and a good choice for xeriscape desert gardens.

Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Poinciana, does best in full sun.  It is a perennial flowering tree that is heat resistant; with rounded leaves and spikes of solid yellow flower clusters.  The fragrant yellow flowers of this Bird of Paradise are very showy and will bloom throughout the year!  The USDA Hardiness Zone is 9.

Texas yellow flowers round leaves bush
Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Bird of Paradise Plant
Arizona bush yellow flowers shrub
leaves and yellow flowers of Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Plants

In the photo ABOVE see the rounded shape of the leaves and the yellow flowers.

The “Red Bird of Paradise”, – commonly but mistakenly called (The Mexican Bird of Paradise), –  has Red, Orange and Yellow Flowers. See the Picture below.

red orange blooming bush flowers
Red Bird of Paradise desert shrub

The Mexican Bird of Paradise bush can be pruned and trained into a small tree.

round leaves yellow flowers bush
Mexican Bird of Paradise tree, yellow flowers

How to grow bird of paradise plants from Bean Pods

Germinating the seeds for this Mexican Bird of Paradise will be easy! Simply soak the seeds from the bean pods in water for 48 hours or like many people use a damp paper towel.  If you are using the paper towel method to germinate your seeds-when a white shoot appears-plant it with the white shoot facing DOWN.

peat pots

To plant and grow your bird of paradise — plant the seed in peat pots.  Cover the seeds lightly with damp vermiculite or your choice of a good soil.


Bird of Paradise seeds need at least 8 hours of sun, but not direct sun it will be too hot! You can start to give them a little more direct sun after the first leaves appear.

Peat Pots are great and make growing and transplanting your Mexican, Yellow or Red Bird of Paradise seedlings much easier. Start your seeds indoors and when you are ready to plant your Bird of Paradise just put the entire pot in the ground. Roots will penetrate the peat pot and the pot disintegrates enriching the soil.

Author: tjsgarden

We are a family that loves the Arizona Desert. A lot of research and team efforts go into our articles and photos. Come discover the beauty and mystery with us. Don't forget your sunscreen!

10 thoughts on “Yellow flowers of the real Mexican Bird of Paradise”

  1. I’ve been trying to find the identity of a California plant almost exactly like this, but more of a large brushy bush than a tree. It looks like it’s a relative of the canifístula de besouro. Leaves almost identical to those in the photos above, very drought tolerate, creates pea pods for seeds, survives in very hot weather, but flowers seem to be more on multitudinous individual spikes rather than in clusters, and overall plant seems more disorganized than the photos above. It tends to grow along highways in the Santa Monica Mountains range… When I’m looking for these and want to take a photo of them, I can’t find them. (Only when I don’t have a camera), but they’re so similar. Anyone know what I’m talking about? Thanks so much!


  2. This article is really helpful! I just love these gorgeous plants both red and yellow especially when they have abundant blooms! I have a red bird of paradise in the backyard (AZ) and I would love to plant more… Could you give me any feedback regarding what is the best way to get them to produce more abundant blooms and foliage? Also when is the best time to prune them or cut them for the cooler months?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kristen, we both love the Red Bird of Paradise. The main points for a successful, blooming plant are 1) pick the sunniest spot you can 2) make sure it has good water drainage . When they are in shade they tend to get leggy. Keeping them lightly trimmed and cutting off the spent flowers will encourage new blooms. When it gets closer to winter you can give them a deep prune. Some people like to prune down to the ground, we prune leaving about 12-16 inches above ground. Depending on the weather, we do our winter prune around Nov. Hope this helps, many blessings!


    1. We have not heard of any allergies but if you touch it and get oils on your hands then washing would be good. The oils on the leaves and flowers can cause a person or animal to get an upset stomach if ingested.
      hope this helps


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