Mexican, Yellow, Red Bird of Paradise plants are poisonous

Many have asked – Is the Red Bird of Paradise plant toxic?

Poisonous Mexican Bird of Paradise shrub
Red flowering bush is poisonous

All 3 of the bird of paradise flowering bushes are poisonous.

desert plant with fern like leaves is red bird of paradise
caesalpinia pulcherrima is a bush with orange red flowers

The orange and yellow flowers of the Caesalpinia pulcherrima, make a stunning bush.

the desert Caesalpinia pulcherrima poisonous bush
Mexican, Yellow and Red Bird of Paradise flowers

The true Mexican Bird of Paradise tree has yellow flowers and round leaves.

shrub with yellow flowers and round leaves
round leaves and yellow flowers of the Mexican Bird of Paradise

The Yellow Bird of paradise plant has clusters of yellow flowers with a long red stamen.

bushes with long red string things
Yellow Bird of Paradise Flowering Bush

All of these beautiful desert bushes belong to the genus Caesalpinia.  But DO NOT eat any part of the 3 Bird of Paradise plants.

desert bush with red stamens, yellow flowers, bean pods
poisonous Yellow Bird of Paradise shrub

Caesalpinia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, FABACEAE.  The fruit of these Bird of Paradise desert bushes is a long, flat seed pod.

The seed pods are toxic!  Watch small children and pets around these shrubs.

The level of toxicity for the bird of paradise plants is low.   The leaves contain hydrocyanic acid.  The toxins in the bean pods are tannins. The role of tannins in many species of plants is to protect it from predators.

Ingesting any part of  bird of paradise plants can cause gastrointestinal irritation. Nausea, diarrhea and vomiting are symptoms of bird of paradise poisoning.

yellow flowering small tree with round leaves
Mexican Bird of Paradise with yellow flowers

While the Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise’s toxins are not life-threatening; keep in mind that diarrhea and vomiting can produce dehydration. These symptoms should be taken seriously and you should seek medical treatment.

 

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Red Geraniums made # 7 in my top Ten Heat Resistant plants for southern Arizona

Zonal geraniums can last for years with the right growing conditions.  The red geraniums pictured in this article are the first plant my husband and I acquired when we were married.    They are very unique and add a velvety, radiant color to our desert garden even with the record-breaking 2012 temperatures.

This red flower is called a zonal geranium.  What is a zonal geranium?  Zonal geraniums are the genus Pelargoniums, and are NOT true geraniums. This species of flowering plants work well in Arizona and Texas because they are drought resistant, perennial and heat tolerant.  Zonal geraniums originated from South Africa and have become very popular as bedding and container plants.

Important fact:  Geraniums, Pelargoniums, are poisonous to dogs and cats.  If your pet eats a geranium contact your local veterinarian right away.

Zonal Geranium in Arizona
planted zonal geraniums in Arizona

I’m always on the lookout for a plant that adds a softness to a thorny, spiky desert garden.  Amazingly, a red geranium can thrive almost as well as a cactus.  We have several throughout our Arizona yard that are either in full sun or sparse shade.  All of our zonal geraniums are doing well; but, the ones with semi shade have larger leaves and more flowers.

zonal geraniums bedding

Caring for geraniums is easy:

  • They love the sun but do well in sparse shade especially with high temperatures
  • Plant Pelargoniums when there is no danger of frost, they do not like the cold
  • In the fall plants may be dug up and brought indoors by a sunny window away from your dogs and cats
  • Water geraniums when the top 2 inches of the soil feels dry
  • Zonal geraniums are critter proof and virtually insect free 🙂
heat resistant geraniums
hanging basket of Red Geraniums in Arizona

Pelargoniums are low-maintenance and a great choice for xeriscape yards.  Grow your geraniums from seed or plant cuttings.

If your geranium has yellow or red leaves it is experiencing stress in some way.  The most common causes of red or yellow leaves are:

  1. your geranium – pelargonium is over-watered
  2. phosphorus deficiencies, are you fertilizing?  If it has gotten cooler at night and the temperature drops below 55 your geranium will not be able to absorb trace minerals.
  3. another possibility is too much sun
  4. or planted too close together

Too diagnose the problem simply look at the exact conditions your plant is growing in.

Red Geranium is a zonal geranium
Pelargonium is a zonal geranium

Even with the best of care a few leaves will inevitably turn yellow; simply remove them along with spent flowers.

In the fall temperatures drop and red leaves on pelargoniums are a sign that it is time to move indoors or to take cuttings from annual cultivars.

October is barely here and I’m already daydreaming about plans for a colorful, lush spring heat-resistant garden.