Calliandra haematocephala

Accession Count: 6
Common Name: Red Powder Puff
Family Name: Fabaceae
Botanical Name: Calliandra haematocephala
Synonyms:
Botanical Synonyms: Calliandra Haematocephala Hassk, Calliandra Inaequilatera Rusby, Calliandra Inaequilatera
Sub Species:
Variety:
Forma:
Cultivar:
Characteristics:
Compound: Cal hae
Geographic Origin: South America
Ecozone Origin: Neotropic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: Calliandra haematocephala, Powder Puff Tree, was first found in Bolivia in a town named Guanai.  It was also distributed throughout southern Peru.  During the 1840’s Cinchona, a type of tree bark, was in demand and made money for South America.  Cinchona, and many other plants including the Powder Puff Tree, were sent to other continents by boat. (1) It is now distributed throughout Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Taiwan, the Caribbean, China, Venezuela, Columbia, and some parts of North America and Europe. (2)  It has spread through much of Florida.  When it was first found there was much conflict on the true name of the plant and this is why there are multiple different names that it has gone by.
Cultivation Notes: Calliandra haematocephala does best living in tropical climates similar to the climate of South America where the plant is originally from.  It thrives in the warmth and humidity of Florida.  It grows well in Dry tropical and subtropical and humid tropical and subtropical climates. (3) It will do well in clay, sand, or loam as long as the soil is well drained and somewhat acidic.  It will do well in full or partial sun, and can also handle partial shade.  The plant has a high drought tolerance.  While in beginning growth phases the plant does best in full sun and regular watering.  Once it has started growing the plant is very low maintenance and may require occasional trimming.  If potted it was stay small similar to a bonsai and will not likely grow past 5 feet tall.  However, in its natural environment, without boundaries, it can grow up to 15 feet high.  The plant typically lasts throughout the entire winter, but will be damaged by freezing temperatures. (4) Even if exposed to freezing temperatures the Powder Puff Tree will grow back during the summer months.  The plant is usually free from pests and disease resistant, although occasionally mites, caterpillars or other insects may infest it. (4)  The beautiful pink, red, or white part of the plant are actually the stamens of the flower.  This part attracts hummingbirds.  (4) 
Ethnobotany: There are not many human or animal uses for this plant, although there are a few.  In a study done on the “Ethnobotanical Survey of Anti-Cancer Plants” in an Ogun State, Nigeria University, there was a small correlation between the use of the bark in Calliandra haematocephala and decrease risk for cancer.  The bark was made into a tea that the participants drank daily for several months. (5)  The only other major use for this plant is ornamental and decorative.

Height: 11 - 15 feet
Width: 0 - 5 feet
Growth Rate: Fast Growing
Grow Season: Summer
Flower Season: Summer
Color: Red
Function: Patio
Spread: Spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Invasive
Toxicity: Toxic
Hardy: Semi-hardy
Water Use: Moderate Water Use
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Calliandra haematocephala