Desert Bird of Paradise, Yellow Bird of Paradise
Caesalpinia gilliesii

Family: Caesalpiniaceae (ses-al-pin-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Caesalpinia (ses-al-PIN-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: gilliesii (gil-EEZ-ee-eye) (Info)
Synonym:Poinciana gilliesii
Synonym:Erythrostemon gilliesii
Synonym:Caesalpinia macrantha

Category:

Shrubs

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Foliage Color:

Chartreuse/Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us

Height:

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

Spacing:

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Danger:

Seed is poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Red

Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Blooms repeatedly

Foliage:

This plant is resistant to deer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)

Grenoble,

Robertsdale, Alabama

Bisbee, Arizona

Bowie, Arizona

Chandler, Arizona

Chino Valley, Arizona

Chuichu, Arizona

Goodyear, Arizona

Maricopa, Arizona

Mesa, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Rimrock, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Barstow, California

Bonsall, California

Davis, California

Desert Hot Springs, California

Fairfield, California

Fontana, California

Fresno, California

Hesperia, California

Lompoc, California

Lucerne Valley, California (2 reports)

Menifee, California

Morongo Valley, California

Mountain View Acres, California

Northridge, California

Palm Springs, California

Redding, California

Reseda, California

Ridgecrest, California

Sacramento, California

San Leandro, California

Temecula, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Twentynine Palms Base, California

Bradley, Florida

Brooksville, Florida

Cape Coral, Florida

Lake City, Florida

Umatilla, Florida

Kurtistown, Hawaii

Shawnee Mission, Kansas

Bishopville, Maryland

Henderson, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada (2 reports)

North Las Vegas, Nevada

Pahrump, Nevada

Reno, Nevada

Alamogordo, New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico (3 reports)

Elephant Butte, New Mexico

La Luz, New Mexico

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Newkirk, New Mexico

Portales, New Mexico

Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Roswell, New Mexico (2 reports)

Kure Beach, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Edmond, Oklahoma

Enid, Oklahoma (2 reports)

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (2 reports)

Weatherford, Oklahoma

Ashland, Oregon

Florence, South Carolina

North Augusta, South Carolina

Okatie, South Carolina

Adkins, Texas

Alpine, Texas

Andrews, Texas

Arlington, Texas

Austin, Texas (2 reports)

Belton, Texas

Bertram, Texas

Boerne, Texas

Burnet, Texas

Canyon, Texas

Copperas Cove, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Dripping Springs, Texas

El Paso, Texas

Fate, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas (2 reports)

Garland, Texas

Henderson, Texas

Iredell, Texas

Katy, Texas

Kerrville, Texas

Kurten, Texas

Kyle, Texas

La Porte, Texas

La Vernia, Texas

League City, Texas

Leander, Texas

Midland, Texas

Mission, Texas

Missouri City, Texas

Murchison, Texas

San Angelo, Texas

San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)

San Saba, Texas

Santa Fe, Texas

Spring, Texas

Stephenville, Texas

Tyler, Texas

Weatherford, Texas

Ivins, Utah

Orem, Utah

Washington, Utah

Vashon, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

33
positives
8
neutrals
1
negative
RatingContent
Positive

On Jun 14, 2015, willemco wrote:

I live in Spain (Costa Blanca) and had a few of these on my land and ended up pulling seedlings just about EVERYWHERE! Didn't know the name and regarded it as a weed. Left just one in my garden and a couple on my driveway. When I came back after winter I found the one I cut back in full flower and humming with bees! Because I regarded this plant as a pest I never really looked closely at the flowers and only now saw their beauty! Just too bad they don't have a scent and I say this because the flowers remind me of the NZ Wild Ginger flowers with the difference that they smell ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL. Used to keep flowers in my lounge in my house in Auckland and their perfume filled the entire house!
Decided to keep the Caesalpinia gilliesii and changed my initial Negative into a firm ... read more

Positive

On May 17, 2014, gunnymom from Twentynine Palms Base, CA wrote:

I have two beautiful Desert Bird of Paradise in my front yard. Evidently, my neighbors Desert Bird of Paradise is the source.

How deep do the roots grow ? I live in the desert of Southern California in the high desert and have a septic tank. Of course , this plant is near my septic tank. Should I move this bird of paradise ? It is now over 4 feet tall and doing well. If so, any hints on digging up and re-planting ?
Thanks...

Positive

On Jun 30, 2013, gardengriot12 from Ashland, OR wrote:

I finally identified this plant growing at Railroad Park, in Ashland, OR I would like to find a nursery that carries it, perhaps by mailorder. Any ideas?

Positive

On May 28, 2013, inhuggermugger from PORTER RANCH, CA wrote:

I love my Desert (Mexican) Bird of Paradise. My only problem growing it is that I must check the plant everyday for worms that eat the buds. I wish I knew what moth or butterfly is laying eggs on it & wish I knew what I could do to protect the plant (a spray?) so I wouldn't have to carefully manicure worms from the buds everyday: 12 yesterday & 3 this morning!! Ouch!! Can anyone help me with this??

Positive

On May 5, 2013, UtahTropics12 from Orem, UT wrote:

I live in Orem Utah zone 6b and this plant has survived 2 winters here! And has done just fine! It is now almost 6 ft tall! I'd say it's hardy to
More like -5 degrees!

Neutral

On Apr 26, 2013, melody1951 from Washington, UT wrote:

The plant has grown well for us--about 5 feet in a year--and we love the beautiful blossoms. However, we have a green worm or caterpillar that eats the majority of the blossoms before they can open for us to enjoy. We have spent a lot of time every morning trying to search for the worms and pick them off, but it became such a chore that we finally decided to spray the plant with various sprays we purchased at a local nursery. Nothing worked. It's now the 2nd summer for this plant, and it is loaded with blossoms waiting to open. Yesterday I noticed a few very tiny white eggs (I'm assuming that's what it is) on most of the buds, so I think this might be what the worms are hatching from. I tried to rub them all off, but with the size of the plant, it's impossible to be sure I got them a... read more

Neutral

On Sep 17, 2012, cotatiman from Cotati, CA wrote:

hello, I have been growing this plant for over four years. One in the ground, two in pots, great height, beauitful leaves but never once has it flowered? Whats up with that?
Live in redding california so heat is no issue.
Does anyone have any ideas, maybe some 0-10-10?
Flustered here in zone 9
any help appreciated

Positive

On Sep 13, 2012, hartt from Sofia
Bulgaria wrote:

As reported below, this one is reliable in zone 7a, even in 6b. Some winter dieback is easily restored during the growing season.

Neutral

On Aug 17, 2012, passifloralisa from Leander, TX wrote:

I'm ready to rip one of these out of the garden. I always prune it when something appears dead - like a branch that had flowers then seed pods ten nothing, but now I'm left with long empty branches and a few stalks of leaves jutting out here and there. I probably water it too much, but it's over 100 here almost every day. What can I do to get more leaves and less stalk? I have two, they grew very fast. One is much more attractive than the other. I really want to take some shears to it and cut it wayyyy back. Anybody know how to get it to look beautiful again or am I stuck with this bunch o'stalks?

Thanks

Positive

On Jul 2, 2012, BermudaHater from Ridgecrest, CA wrote:

It's a beautiful plant! The only place I have any problems with it being invasive is in one area that I water once a week in the summer time. The rest of the year this area never gets watered. But I just pick the sprouts out of the ground that I dont want. Im curious how long these plants live?

Positive

On Oct 24, 2011, LipLock from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I grew this plant from seed a few years ago. It is fast-growing to about 10 feet and blooms from late April thru November. Very easy to start from seed. It can be pruned into a nice looking tree with an interesting shape in the winter. Went thru this 100-year drought looking better than it ever has. Loves heat and sun. I highly recommend it.

Positive

On Oct 4, 2010, GlenGodfrey from Lake City, FL wrote:

Growing a Paradise bird plant is quit simple. Just choose the type of species you want to grow. Select the Site, soil first. Be careful and always take care of the temperature.
http://www.wildlifeworld360.com/heavenly-bird-of-paradise.ht...

Positive

On Aug 31, 2010, colchie from Vashon, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:

grew this from seed this year. Did much better than its cousin caesalpinia pulcherrima. No flowers this year, though. I'm hoping it winters over...

Positive

On Jul 5, 2010, coffinitup from Pahrump, NV wrote:

A wonderful addition!
We noticed these plants growing wild all over our desert area, and fell in love with them.
We collected seeds and started growing them in pots years ago.
We plant our yearlings in the ground in early Spring and they are all thriving.
We have never had one die.
They are all blooming and are just beautiful.
They are very easy to grow from seeds, and they handle winter quite nicely.
The hummingbirds and butterflies love them.

Positive

On Apr 3, 2010, OKplantnerd38 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

I bought this legume from a local nursery 3 years ago. It was grown by Monrovia, who rated it hardy only to zone 8. As I have known this to be a naturally-occurring plant in (at least) SW Oklahoma, I am not surprised to find it has been completely hardy through 3 of OKC's zone 7A winters. Though late to break dormancy here, it has proven to be a reliable, trouble-free, and heavy-blooming deciduous shrub with attractive "fern-like" foliage and large clusters of light-yellow caesalpinioid flowers with very long red stamens. I have seen hummingbirds on it. Heavy producer of reddish seed pods (the seeds do drop and sprout). For me, it is nearly always in bloom from June into September and has proven heat- and drought-resistant since becoming established.

Neutral

On Aug 5, 2009, goldenstate from Fresno, CA wrote:

This plant is extremely drought tolerant. There is an abandoned house in Chowchilla that is completely overgrown with these shrubs. It looks like it might have all started as one or a couple of shrubs, but they have reproduced and now almost block out the whole house. All of that with no water in the summer whatsoever (the house is abandoned) and we get less than 10 inches of rain a year. It's in bloom nearly all summer long.

Positive

On May 25, 2009, jeff0452 from Rio Rancho, NM wrote:

I planted one of these last year in a spot which was so hot, dry and sunny that the last thing I tried there shriveled to nothing in a week. This species did well, though, with not even any dieback. It leafed out later than most other things in the garden this spring, but now looks healthy and has some flower buds. I did have to take a little dead foliage off early in the spring, but other than that it seems to need almost no care, not even regular watering. I haven't had any seedlings yet, but one of my neighbors has had many from her plant. A treat for the desert gardener.

Positive

On May 6, 2009, kman_blue from (Zone 6b) wrote:

This exotic invader is a native of Argentina, but has become naturalized in the Desert SW of the US now. It's NOT native to the USA and naturalizing doesn't change this fact.

As far as my experiences go, I bought one of these from a nursery in Albuquerque, NM years ago(more than 15 years ago). Some don't like it because it spreads somewhat aggressively by seed in the SW US(hence how it became naturalized), but up here in Eastern Kansas it doesn't produce nearly as many seedlings because of the colder winter temperatures here I suspect. It's suffered from some winter die-back from time to time, but nothing serious in the years I've had it. It's been through temps as low as about -10F and still flowered the next year. Similar to the notes from some in Oklahoma, it's not as bi... read more

Positive

On Sep 2, 2008, robjohn from Canyon, TX wrote:

My mother called the Spanish Rose. I have several, have always liked them. Also I try to keep only drouth tolerant plants. I live near Amarillo. There is a tiny annual version of them that grows wild. I have never seen one more than about a foot tall. I saw a few today while plowing my wheat ground. The flowers and seed pods are usually less than an inch long. Just a miniature version.

Positive

On Aug 5, 2008, UniversalGarden from Las Vegas, NV wrote:

This plant, the Desert Bird of Paradise is a gem of a plant. Here's why . . . First, if you love reoccuring blooming plants then you'll love this one. The Desert Bird of Paradise begins to bloom early spring and on into late fall. What a gorgeous sight it provides all summer. Second, it is one hardly little feller. It can withstand blazing heat, high winds, and little water. Personally, my experience in southern Nevada and northern Arizona with this plant makes it one of my all time favorites. Third, it is a prolific plant. From one plant, I have collected hundreds of seeds which has led me to grow over fifty of these beauties. Fourth, the Desert Bird of Paradise is beloved by bees. They love the pollen this plant produces. In the evening, one plant can have over 100 bees on it going ape o... read more

Positive

On Jun 20, 2007, Xaa from Portales, NM wrote:

Very lovely, has a delicate, pleasing scent to the flowers, and is very easy to grow. Usually starts flowering on the second or third year of it's life. For fullest appearance and fastest growth, start watering it after the last frost. It can survive drought and complete neglect, but it won't flower if it doesn't think there's enough water. On the flip side, once it starts flowering, it will keep on flowering so long as there's water - right up until the first frost sends it to sleep for the winter. Careful not to water too much - it will produce so MANY flowers that the mess from the old flowers that fall off will get caught in the branches and actually weight it down to the ground. ;-) Generally speaking, it likes to grow wide and shrubby, but you can train it to grow upwards by t... read more

Neutral

On Jun 14, 2007, CodyMody7890 from Reno, NV (Zone 6a) wrote:

a local nursery sells this tree/shrub iv seen pictures of it but in person the flowers were not that attractive but is very airy and graceful also i have seen it around town and i'm sure it self sows

Positive

On May 9, 2007, cactuspatch from Alamogordo, NM (Zone 7b) wrote:

These grow native in New Mexico. In fact we always called them New Mexico Bird of Paradise. As a child I thought that was not only because they are native, but their colors of red and yellow are the color of our state flag!

Positive

On Jul 22, 2006, edreaadams from Lucerne Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Grows great out in the desert (Lucerne Valley, CA). With abundant watering - every other day - I get blooms like crazy, and they are just beautiful. And after the first bloom of the season, I cut back the plant and got some more blooms.

The only downfall I have is the huge amount of bees that swarm around the flowers when in bloom. So be careful if you're allergic to bees, they're all over the flowers!

I've started collecting the seeds from the pods right after they pop, and I'm currently soaking them in water to see if I can be successful at starting from seed. In just two days in the water, about 50% of the seeds have already swollen up three times the size.

Negative

On May 21, 2006, ambersplants from Morongo Valley, CA wrote:

I live in the high desert and have seen it growing here and in Palm Springs. I had 4 large bushes, but the seedlings pop up like crazy. Pruned one into a great shade tree that dogs couldn't destroy. It is listed as an invasive species by many organizations (just google it with the word invasive...). Pretty flowers but very twiggy throughout the fall and winter (ugly). I would not recommend this, it has a horrible taproot and likely will compete with natives. At least do your neighbors a favor and cut the pods off.

Positive

On Feb 27, 2006, canelsonmasonry from Enid, OK (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have found this plant growing in NorthCentral & Northwest Central Oklahoma. One friend of mine has had hers 30 years growing on a clay-shale type hill open to sun, wind, etc. and it is still there. She swears the folks she got hers from had some on their home place for some time prior to that, hers was a wedding gift. There is one, besides mine, growing on a nearly abandoned lot in Enid, Oklahoma which the current family member who owns the place says was a gift also.....60 years ago. Neither of these are the size of some I have seen on the internet, however, they are seldom watered, not pruned, nor pampered in any way and still bloom from early summer to September or later. Here they go naked in winter and redress come spring. I had my sister-in-law bring me one from Whiteoak, Te... read more

Positive

On Jul 19, 2005, evilr0b from Garland, TX wrote:

When I purchased 2 of these plants last year I was very unimpressed, however this year they have had a chance to become acclimated to their new surroundings and are in their second bloom cycle this year. I absolutley love the flowers.

Neutral

On Jul 6, 2005, angele wrote:

This plant is a naturalized plant in New Mexico. In my area it is somewhat agressive. My neighbor planted two and now there are more than a dozen growing in the vacant lot between our homes. A beautiful flower that attracts hummingbirds.

Positive

On Mar 14, 2005, joanortiz from Newkirk, NM wrote:

There are a couple of these plants left on our ranch in an area that does not get ANY supplemental watering, and they are very healthy. Our annual rainfall runs between 8 and 20 inches a year. They were planted about 50 years ago by my father-in-law, so being well-established probably contributes to their sturdiness. My main point is, though, is that this is in zone 6! We tried to transplant a couple of these but had trouble getting enough of the root, which runs VERY deep, and we were unsuccessful. Two years ago we bought three from a nursery and placed them in our yard, where we water them lightly. They bloomed beautifully last year and are starting to green up this year. Back to the zone thing though: we generally get a few zero-degree nights a year, and occasional below-zero temps, alt... read more

Positive

On Jun 12, 2004, bdodson from Tucson, AZ wrote:

I am growing this tree in my yard in Oro Valley, AZ (north of Tucson) and it's doing very well. It is blooming at fairly regular intervals. No complaints whatsoever.

Positive

On Jun 4, 2004, patternmaker from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

Survives nicely in Zone 7 with only minimal dieback in winter. Repeat bloomer throughout summer!

Positive

On Apr 29, 2004, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

The Desert Bird of Paradise is a Nturalized Texas Native. One of the most beautiful when in bloom.
The flowers are amazing and last a long time, I love this tree.

Positive

On Mar 1, 2004, docaly from Albuquerque, NM wrote:

The Desert Bird of Paradise is one of my all-time favorite xeri plants -- I've even transplanted them in my garden and when one went into shock, I kept working with it and in a very short time, fully recovered and bloomed anew the following season!

I did not know they grew in warmer climates than Zones 7 and 8, but rest assured, they do very well in Zone 7, and as far north as Placitas (on the northern most tip of Albuquerque). It is a deciduous in that zone, and very tolerant to shaping after blooming. Mine grew to be about 6' tall and I drip irrigated 2x weekly during summer and it did very well with the 2 gallons it received then.

I will be anxious to try growing it in Zone 9! Thanks, everyone for sharing your experience!

Positive

On Sep 1, 2003, arizonagardener from Casa Grande, AZ wrote:

I planted two Caesalpinia gilliesii about 4 months ago; they are now 6 feet tall and take the Arizona (U.S.) heat really well.

I planted them in a mix of potting soil, sand, and clay. I water them deep about twice a week. I also found that adding nightcrawlers (worms) to my soil has really worked well.

Very showy flowers all summer long, and the seeds (look like bean pods) are easy to sow directly in the ground.

Positive

On Aug 3, 2003, ponchoformula from Victorville, CA wrote:

These are the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow! All types attract hummingbirds, bees, wasps and white flies and their eggs.

I think there is slight confusuion regarding the names and genus of these plants as well: C. gilliesii is mostly known as "Bird of Paradise" or "Desert Bird of Paradise". There are also C. mexicana "Mexican Bird of Paradise", and C. pulcherrima "Dwarf Poinciana" or "Pride of Barbados".

All are quite drought tolerant but only C. gilliessii and C. mexicana can take the harsh heat of the Southwestern deserts. Can take most any type of soil as long as it drains well and does not hold too much moisture A soil pH of 6.5 is deal. These plants are attractive enough to stand alone and held out as spe... read more

Neutral

On Jul 26, 2003, jimandlaura wrote:

We live in northern california, where we have seen only four Desert Bird of Paradise plants growing; we're very glad to find this site with the information on how to start our own tree.

We're happy to find others with interest in this beautiful specimen; we will let you know how well we have done with the information we found here.

Positive

On Jul 16, 2003, Bairie from Corpus Christi, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:

The first "Texas Bird of Paradise" that I remember was about 60 years ago by the milking barn where the only water it got was rain. I loved it then and still do. I have one in my yard now. Once it was chopped down to the ground (by mistake) and it came right back up. It's easy to start from seed, and tolerates neglect very well. I didn't know that the seeds were toxic--thanks for that info.

Positive

On Jul 15, 2003, slrs from Boerne, TX wrote:

I purchased this plant as a Honey Mesquite last fall but when it bloomed turned out to be a Desert Bird of Paradise.

The plant seems to be very deer resistant: it is not caged and has had no deer nibbling, and we are Hill Country outside Boerne with LOTS of deer. The flowers are georgous and very long lasting. When we are gone and it doesn't get watered it, still does fine even though it's only been planted 10 months.

Positive

On Jul 10, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a nice specimen plant for full sun- it can be used in xeriscape gardens, but prefers to be watered and flowers better if watered. This is particularly true once replanted (found out the hard way by not watering one much after planting it). For me it is a deciduous plant (zone 9b). I have no experience with it being invasive here in California, but I suppose it's possible. Most invasive plants tend to be less so here in the desert. There is one growing along a roadside in the San Fernando Valley that i doubt was planted there on purpose.. it gets mowed down every summer when the city mows the weeds along the roadside, and every spring it shows up again... so it's definitely a resilient plant. This place it's growing never ever gets watered yet it looks lush and happy (before g... read more

Positive

On Sep 4, 2002, GRANMOUSE from San Angelo, TX wrote:

I have this plant through out my yard. Some are trained to grow into trees and others are mixed with Caesalpinia pulcherrima (Dwarf Poinciana) as nice bushes. Being from Texas, I grew up referring to Caesalpinia gilliesii as a "Texas Bird of Paradise" and Caesalpinia pulcherrima as "Mexican Bird of Paradise".

This plant is very easy to grow. I have only grown from planting seed in the ground in late winter or early spring. This is one of my favorite plants for xeriscaping.

Positive

On Jun 22, 2002, Ulrich from Manhattan Beach, CA (Zone 11) wrote:

Has a pleasant aroma when blooming.

Neutral

On Oct 7, 2001, MaVieRose from High Desert, CA (Zone 8a) wrote:

The Desert Bird of Paradise is more of a bush rather than a tree due to its slow growth. The plant is a native to South America.

Branching is irregular; the leaves are light green in color with pinnately compound shape. Leaves are ferny or lacy and feathery in appearance. The flower is sulphuric yellow in color with dark pink to redish stamen in a racemen form. The plant has a tropical feel - very showy.

The Desert Bird of Paradise is popularly use in landscaping: along streets, also good in xeriscaping. Plant performs great in the heat. Tolerates drought and dry soil but will respond well to occasional watering. Prefers well drained soil. Prune almost to the ground in the winter if necessary to improve form.