Caesalpinia pulcherrima, commonly called peacock flower or Barbados Pride, is a fast-growing upright shrub or small tree which typically matures to 10' tall (in shrub form) or to as much as 20' tall (in tree form). It is native to tropical America (probably the West Indies), but is now widely grown in tropical areas around the world for its long bloom of colorful flowers in upright racemes on prickly branches clad with twice pinnate green leaves. Bowl-shaped 5-petaled flowers (to 2" wide) bloom spring to fall (year-round in tropical climates) in 4-8" long terminal racemes (to 40 flowers per raceme) located at the branch ends. Flowers feature bright orange-yellow petals with contrasting elongated dark red stamens.
Another common name for this shrub is dwarf poinciana in recognition of the similarity (although of smaller size) of the flowers of this shrub to the flowers of royal poinciana (Delonix regia). Feathery, twice pinnate green leaves are usually evergreen, but sometimes deciduous in areas near the edge of its growing range. Each leaf has 5-8 pairs of pinnae and 6-10 pairs of leaflets per pinna. Flowers are followed by oblong, flat fruits (seed pods to 2.5-4" long), with each pod containing 8-10 dark brown to black seeds which are ejected as the pod splits open at maturity. This shrub has sharp prickles along its stems, leading to the sometimes used common name of Barbados flower fence because of its use in the West Indies as a flowering barrier fence. Green seed pods are cooked and eaten in Mexico. In Hawaii, flowers are sometimes used in leis.
Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-12 where it is easily grown in medium moisture, fertile, well drained soils in full sun. Tolerates some light shade, but best flowers occur in full sun. Established plants have good drought tolerance. Prune to shape as needed. Generally survives temperatures to 30 degrees F. (sometimes with brief dips into the high 20s).
1. Scarify the seeds by nicking or sanding the seed coat.
2. Soak the seed in water for several hours.
3. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
4. Put the seeds on the soil.
5. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
6. Water the seeds.
7. Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade.
8. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.