Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Sw.

Half hardy, erect, prickly shrub or small tree with 2-pinnate leaves, to 30cm long, composed of numerous elliptic leaflets, and erect racemes, to 20cm long, of up to 40 bowl-shaped orange-yellow flowers from spring to autumn.  To 4m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘Jacquin remarks that a hedge made of this plant, especially when mixed with Parkinsonia aculeata, forms the most beautiful fence imaginable; indeed few flowers have been described in more enraptured language. Although long since widely diffused through the West-India isles, and frequently found of spontaneous growth, it is doubtful whether it be originally indigenous there.  Ligon says expressly that it was imported into Barbadoes from the Cape de Verd Islands.  It is cultivated through all the tropical countries of the East, especially wherever any Chinese are settled, by whom it is called the Peacock’s Crest.  Was introduced into Holland from Amboyna about the year 1670, and cultivated in Chelsea Garden, by Sir Hans Sloane, in 1691; but as it cannot be preserved out of the stove, nor propagated except by seeds, it must ever remain a rarity in our northern climes’.  [BM t.995/1807].

History at Camden Park

It is difficult not to draw the conclusion that William Macarthur was aware of Jacquin’s words when he imported both Poinciana pulcherrima and Parkinsonia aculeata, which appeared together in the 1850 catalogue only to be omitted from the 1857 edition.  It is probable that that they were unsuited to the Camden winters.  Obtained from James Backhouse of York.  Included among desiderata in a letter dated 10th April 1846 and recorded as arrived.  [MP A2933-1 p.136].


Published Dec 24, 2009 - 04:38 PM | Last updated Jul 18, 2010 - 04:50 PM

Shown are 2-pinnate leaves and erect racemes of bowl-shaped orange-yellow flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.995, 1807.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Sw. | BM t.995/1807 | BHL

More details about Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Sw.
Family Fabaceae
Region of origin

West Indies

  • Poinciana pulcherrima L. 
Common Name

Barbados pride, Barbados flower-fence

Name in the Camden Park Record

Poinciana pulcherrima

Confidence level high