Desert Shrubs – Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Lacy leaves and continually blooming red, orange with a splash of yellow flowers on my Bird of Paradise Arizona shrub. I was worried that the monsoon rains from this week would damage my young Red Bird of Paradise plant. No worries! I have new orange, yellow and red flowers decorating our driveway and the hummingbirds love it.

Arizona and Texas bushes
bushes with bean pods and orange flowers

The Southwest including California, Arizona, and Texas are cascading with these flowering desert plants and hardy drought tolerant bushes.

orange flowering arizona bushes
Bird of Paradise shrub with orange flowers

Some my even think the Red Bird of Paradise is a native plant of Arizona. Actually,  Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima,  is native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas and is also the NATIONAL flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados, which is why you may hear it called Pride of Barbados.

This flowering perennial shrub is one of the easiest desert plants to care for. Red Bird of Paradise is very hardy, drought tolerant once established. (they can have very long taproots) With a little mulch at the base, they come back year after year.

The Red Bird of Paradise

I’ve heard many people in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona refer to this orange and red desert bush as the Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana). The real Mexican Bird of Paradise has yellow flowers and is larger. The Mexican Bird of Paradise is native to Mexico.

Mexican Bird of Paradise is native to Mexico and has yellow flowers
Red Bird of Paradise in Tucson

The Red Bird of Paradise is a deciduous (loses its leaves) shrub that thrives in  full sun and has bright red, yellow and orange flowers that grow on long, thin stalks. The leaves are lacy,  ferny-looking. The Red Bird of Paradise is a fairly fast grower, and can get large, so periodic trimming is suggested.

yellow and orange flowering bush

A few bean pods are appearing on the Red Bird of Paradise bushes in our yard.  I look forward to propagating the seeds later this season as I’ve already located a sunny spot in our xeriscape desert garden to grow more. Red Bird of Paradise plants are a species in the FABACEAE Family, more commonly known as the pea, bean or legume family.

Bean Pods on Bird of Paradise bush
Bean Pods on Red Bird of Paradise

To germinate the Red Bird of Paradise seeds, I simply soak the seeds from the bean pods in water for 24 hours.  I put them in peat pots, barely cover the seeds. They germinate. Red 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 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.

Bushes with Red, Orange and Yellow Flowers in Arizona – Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima

What is the desert bush with Red, Yellow and Orange Flowers?  This common Arizona and Texas desert shrub is called the Red Bird of Paradise.

desert bird of paradise
desert shrubs with red orange flowers
orange and yellow flowering bush
Bird of Paradise bush with orange yellow flowers

The botanical name for Red Bird of Paradise is Caesalpinia pulcherrima, it is a species in the FABACEAE Family, more commonly known as the pea, bean or legume family.

bean pods on arizona bushes
Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Red Bird of Paradise bean pods

This is one of the easiest desert flowering plants to grow and take care of in the Phoenix, Tucson area; along with Texas and California.  It is deciduous (loses its leaves seasonally), but will bloom constantly through the summer.

bushes with yellow orange flowers
Red Bird Of Paradise plants attract butterflies

The Red Bird of Paradise makes a favorable hedge.  The orange and yellow flowers are one of the best plants to attract butterflies & hummingbirds!

 

arizona bush with yellow orange flowers
orange and yellow flowering bushes

 

Caesalpinia pulcherrima bushes with orange flowers
Red Bird of Paradise, Pride of Barbados

The Red Bird of Paradise plant is also the NATIONAL flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados, which is why you may hear it called Pride of Barbados.  Please note:  when purchasing this plant I have seen it labeled as “Pride of Barbados”.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima bush in Tucson
orange and yellow flowers continually bloom in the desert

This desert beauty is very hardy and drought resistant once it’s established; they can have a very long tap-root. With a little mulch at the base, your desert bird of paradise will come back year after year.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima
common bushes with red-orange flowers

The leaves are delicate lacy,  fern-looking. You may see this desert plant’s leaves fold up at night,  no worries; it is called Nyctinasty and is completely natural.   Bird of Paradise are fairly fast growers, and can get LARGE, so periodic trimming is suggested. The better water drainage you have the healthier this flowering plant will be.

Some people refer to this orange and yellow desert bush as the Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana). The actual Mexican Bird of Paradise has only yellow flowers and rounded leaves.  For more Mexican Bird of Paradise info

Tucson flowering bush Pride of Barbados
vivid orange, red and yellow blooms
Orange yellow flowers on Red Bird of Paradise Shrub
Orange flowers on the Red Bird of Paradise Shrub

Check out our article link: If you are interested in growing your own Bird of Paradise plants from the bean pods.

Red Bird of Paradise Bean Pods
Bean Pods and Orange, Yellow Flowers

 

shrub with orange yellow red flowers
young Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Pictured above is one of our young plants we are watering often until their tap-root is well established.

Mexican Bird of Paradise bush
fern looking leaves of the Pride of Barbados

 

Red Bird of Paradise
Orange flowering bush in Arizona and Texas – Red Bird of Paradise

Here are some landscaping ideas to add colors to your garden area. 

Ocotillo cactus and Red Bird of Paradise landscaping.
Ocotillo cactus and Red Bird of Paradise landscaping
purple flowering bush red flowering shrub
Purple Texas Sage and Red Bird of Paradise Bushes

TIDBITS:  The Amazon Rainforest Medicine men had some medicinal uses for Red Bird of ParadiseCaesalpinia pulcherrima. Four grams from the root was used to induce abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy.  The bean pods and seeds of the Bird of Paradise plant are toxic / poisonous and will cause abdominal symptoms and vomiting.