Caesalpinia cacalaco

Accession Count: 6
Common Name: cascalote
Family Name: Fabaceae
Botanical Name: Caesalpinia cacalaco
Botanical Synonyms: Russellodendron Cacalaco, Coulteria Mexicana, Poinciana Horrida
Family Synonyms: Leguminosae
Sub Species:
Characteristics: Caesalpinia cacalaco is an evergreen small tree or shrub. Its leaves are medium green in color, with alternate, bipinnate arrangement. The cascalote stems are usually thorny, with thorns similar to those of a rose bush. Its yellow flowers bloom from a spike inflorescence at the terminal point of branches from winter through spring.
Compound: Cae cac
Geographic Origin: Mexican Tropics
Ecozone Origin: Nearctic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: The cascalote plant is native to Mexico but can be found in most of the Southwest (3).  The wild variety of the plant is covered with thorns but a cultivated variety called 'Smoothie' has been bred for urban use (3,4). The cascalote is known for its striking burst of bright yellow color in winter and spring (3,4).
Cultivation Notes:

Cascalote grows best in full sun with deep non-rocky soil (2).  It needs water every three to four weeks during the winter, and every two to three weeks during the hot summer months (2).  Plant cascalote in a warm, open area so you can enjoy the winter bloom.  It can tolerate hot weather (2) but is somewhat sensitive to cold temperature and should be placed in a protected microclimate in areas where freezing temperatures are common. 


Cascalote is an excellent source of phenolics such as gallic and tannic acids used in the Mexican tannery industry (1).  The city of Leon consumes about 13,250 pounds of cascalote daily (1).

Height: 11 - 15 feet
Width: 11 - 15 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate Growing
Grow Season: Summer
Flower Season: Winter
Color: Yellow
Function: Screen
Spread: Non-spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Benign
Toxicity: Toxic
Hardy: Tender
Water Use: Low water Use


1. Bulletin, Volume 26, Issue 1 (Google EBook)." Google Books. Google, Jan. 1908. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.

2. Cascalote – Tree of the Week | Caretaker Landscape and Tree Management in Phoenix." Cascalote – Tree of the Week | Caretaker Landscape and Tree Management in Phoenix. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.

3. Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert | Low-Water Trees." Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert | Low-Water Trees. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.

4. Plant Cascalote Tree, for Winter Blossoms." Plant Cascalote Tree, for Winter Blossoms. Scotts, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.

5. Shuler, Carol. Low-Water-Use Plants. Da Capo Press, 1993.


Caesalpinia cacalaco