Our fascinating seeds in a pod from last week’s mystery were from a red bird of paradise, also called pride-of-Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima). In Phoenix it is sometimes mistakenly called a Mexican bird of paradise, which is a different plant.

The red bird of paradise is a popular landscape plant in Phoenix. It grows to be a tall shrub during the summer, with lovely orange/red flowers.

It has lacy compound leaves.

Originally from the tropics of South America and the West Indies, the red bird of paradise is frost sensitive and loses its leaves in the winter. Many people cut the plant nearly to the ground in the winter, but it grows back readily when the weather gets warm again.

The floral structure is unusual, with very long stamens.

The stamens are the male parts of the flower that produce pollen.

The flowers are favorites of bees, wasps, hummingbirds and butterflies. The plants are thought to be pollinated by butterflies.

Once pollinated, the plant produces seed pods,

and these interesting ridged seeds. Note:  Some websites have indicated the pods and seeds may be poisonous.

You probably won’t see the seeds in the pods once they mature.

The dried pods burst open on the plant and shoot the seeds. Cool!

Red bird of paradise plants have a number of interesting features, including having nectaries outside the flower that produce nectar for visiting insects.

Have you ever seen a red bird of paradise?


A special thank you to Heather for suggesting this plant. 🙂