University of Arizona Campus Arboretum

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Caesalpinia gilliesii, Yellow Bird of Paradise

This week's Univeristy of Arizona Campus Arboretum's Tree of the Week is a highly heat tolerant plant and is blooming right now!

Caesalpinia gilliesii, originally native to South America, can now be found here in the desert southwest. Commonly known as Yellow Bird of Paradise, this fine textured shrub produces large clusters of intense yellow flowers with very conspicuous and long red stamens that extend beyond the floral petals. The shrubby tree reaches up to 6 to 10 ft tall, and produces small green leaflets and a slender trunk with open and upright branches. 

The roots of this plant were used by indigenous medicine men in the Amazon as a cure for fevers, sores and coughs. The ripe seeds are poisonous though, so it's best planted in areas where dogs and children are not at risk. Given careful consideration to plant it where it has access to adequate sun, and with regular pruning to modify its naturally open form into a more dense form, the Yellow Bird of Paradise makes an excellent ornamental plant in desert landscapes.

April 2017