Hardy Bird of Paradise Tree
Item #: 2276
Zones: 7a to 10b, possibly colder
Height: 60" tall
(aka: Erythrostemon gilliesii) We have grown this South American native for decades, during which time it survived 0 degrees F with only a little tip burn. Even more impressive is that it has survived Zone 6 temperatures when kept dry in winter at the Denver Botanic Garden. Caesalpinia gilliesii has woody stems adorned toward the top with lacy, grey-green, mimosa-like leaves. Topping each stem, starting in June (NC), are stunningly indescribable flower heads composed of bright yellow petals with contrasting red stamens that resemble long red threads emerging from the flower. Caesalpinia gilliesii is sure to draw both visitor stares and rave reviews.
Here in the lower Piedmont of NC, winter hardiness zone 7b, usually the only maintenance needed by this Bird of Paradise is to trim out any stems that have been killed by winter's cold. In milder climates shrubs might need a bit of renewal pruning every few years.
At least 6 hours of direct full-sun are necessary for this plant to bloom, more hours of sun would be even better. It needs well drained soils and it is very drought tolerant. One of its common names is Desert Bird of Paradise.
Bird of Paradise is exceptionally ornamental with its delicately divided blue-green foliage and exquisitely showy flowers which are produced intermittently all summer. Many flowering ornamentals add color to gardens as does this plant but this plant brings great beauty in its spectacular flowers.
The flowers are highly visited by hummingbirds.
Here is a prime example where one common name, Bird of Paradise, is shared by two very different and unrelated plants, this one, Caesalpinia gilliesii, and the tropical herbaceous perennial Strelitzia reginae. Strelitzia reginae might be the better known of these two with its banana like leaves and the flower (inflorescence) that often shows up as a florist cutflower.