Erythrostemon mexicanus

Botanical Name

Erythrostemon mexicanus (A. Gray) E. Gagnon & G. P. Lewis

Common Name(s)

  • Mexican bird-of-paradise

Legume Clades

Native Geographic Range

  • Southwestern North America

IUCN Status

Growth Form

small tree

Cultivation Status in AZ

Commonly cultivated


Evergreen shrubs or small trees to 16 ft (5 m) high. The bark is smooth and green to gray. Leaves are bipinnate with 3--5 pairs of pinnae plus a terminal pinna, usually with 3 or 4 pairs of leaflets per pinna. Inflorescences with masses of showy yellow flowers are produced at the ends of the stems from spring through autumn.


Widely distributed in eastern and western Mexico and entering extreme southern Texas in thornscrub and seasonally dry tropical forests.


Like other species of Erythrostemon, the seeds are reported to be toxic.


Mexican bird-of-paradise is commonly grown in warm-winter areas of the Southwest for its showy flowers. It can be planted to form a hedge or pruned to develop a small tree suitable for patios. The plants require regular irrigation in hot weather to maintain appearance and flowering. Growth is fast. This species readily reseeds in garden settings. The seeds are ejected many feet from the parent plant by the elastically dehiscent fruits. Plants are hardy to about 21° F (-6° C). This species produces significant amounts of litter and should be sited away from pools and other areas where fallen leaflets, flowers, and fruits would be a problem.