Calliandra haematocephala: Powder puff tree

Family: Fabaceae
Common name: Powder puff tree, Red powder puff

There is no mistaking the Powder puff tree when it’s in bloom; with beautiful pink or red fluffball-like flowers blooming all over the tree. The trees can grow to a height of 15-20 feet, though most garden trees only grow 8-10 feet tall. They have dark green, pinnate leaves, each leaf having 8-10 pairs of leaflets, which fold up in the night.

Flower buds look very interesting with little green globules like a raspberry. Once they are ready to bloom, each globule opens up and sends many long hairy stamens with tiny brownish anthers at their tip. The flowers are mostly pink or red, but there is a variant with white flowers as well.

Calliandra inaequilatera and Calliandra tweediei has deep red flowers, whereas Calliandra surinamensis has white flowers with pink tips. All these variants have well-branched, rounded crowns, so that the tree looks beautiful even without its blooms.

Powder puff trees love warm, tropical weather and need good sunlight for blooming. They are drought-tolerant and need very little maintenance. Flowers are attractive to birds, bees and insects because of their bright colors.

These trees can be pruned well to maintain desired shapes, especially if they are planted as hedges. Powder puff trees make good accent plants for gardens, and are also good for butterfly gardens.

They are mostly grown as ornamental plants in gardens. Since Powder puff trees grow very fast and have a large spreading crown, always remember to provide enough space around the tree for it to fill out. Good draining soil and occasional fertilization can do wonder to your trees, helping it stay healthy and in bloom for a longer period of time.

Propagation is from seeds and stem cuttings.

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