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Calliandra californica

Botanical Name

Calliandra californica Bentham

Common Name(s)

  • Baja California fairy duster

Legume Clades

Native Geographic Range

  • Southwestern North America

IUCN Status

Growth Form

shrub

Cultivation Status in AZ

Commonly cultivated

Description

Many-stemmed shrubs to 6 1/2 ft (2 m) high. The bark is brown and relatively smooth. Leaves are bipinnate with 1--4 pairs of pinnae per leaf, with 4--15 leaflets per pinna. Flowers with showy red filaments are produced in inflorescences that appear nearly year-round with warm temperatures and adequate moisture.

Habitat

Central and southern areas of the Baja California peninsula and a few localities on the coast of Sonora, Mexico. The plants grow in Sonoran Desertscrub and thornscrub.

Uses

Baja California fairy duster is browsed by wildlife and livestock. Extracts from the plants have shown anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties.

Horticulture

Baja California fairy duster is widely planted as an ornamental shrub in warm areas of Arizona. The showy flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The plants flower nearly year-round with warmth and moisture. Established plants are drought tolerant but require regular irrigation during hot weather to maintain an attractive appearance. The plants are hardy to 25° F (-4° C). Frozen plants recover rapidly the following season. Frozen stems may be pruned and the plants can be pruned to control size but otherwise require little maintenance. Litter is minimal.