Calliandra purpurea


Family: Belongs to the Mimosaceae family, which includes the imposing Saman (Samanea saman), Woman’s Tongue (Albizia lebbek), and a close relative, the Pink Powderpuff (Calliandra surinamensis).

Description: Fast growing, low branching, small tree or shrub with multiple thin stems and dense foliage, up to 5 m tall (16 ft), but more commonly half that size; several specimens in Gardens; leaves usually bipinnate with 3-8 pairs of oblong leaflets, each up to 2 cm long (0.8 in) and up to 1 cm wide (0.4 in); flowers axillary, compound, up to about 8 cm across (3 in), fragrant and showy; look like powderpuffs due to mass of long filaments; filaments all red or red-purple (in contrast to the Pink Powderpuff, C. surinamensis, which has white at base and pink or red above), 3-4 cm long (1.2-1.6 in); fruit a flat pod, first green then turning brown; flowering throughout year.

Natural Habitat: Well drained soil in full sun or partial shade; but will grow on a range of soil types and is drought resistant; propagation by seed or cutting.

Origin and Distribution: Native to Lesser Antilles (Eastern Caribbean); distributed variously in tropics, sub-tropics and Caribbean.

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