Calliandra californica

Accession Count: 225
Common Name: Baja fairy duster, red fairy duster
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Family Name: Fabaceae
Botanical Name: Calliandra californica
Botanical Synonyms: Anneslia californica, Anneslia mixta, Anneslia mucronulata and Feuilleea californica
Family Synonyms: Leguminosae
Sub Species:
Calliandra californica is a woody, evergreen shrub with bipinnate compound leaves in an alternate orientation. The leaflets are small, dark green in color, and fern-like in shape. The shrub takes on a full vase shape with cane-like branches which droop down. The long-lasting flowers are pin cushion shaped, and vibrant red to fuschia. From the flowers, C. californica bears thin, light-green, erect, oblong pods that peel back to release the seeds from within (1).

Compound: Cal cal
Geographic Origin: Baja California Sur, Northern Mexico
Ecozone Origin: Nearctic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: C. californica is native to Baja California Sur; the lower half of the Baja Peninsula. This plant can also be found on Isla Santa Margarita, an island off the West coast of Baja California Sur. In its native range, this species grows in gullies, seeps, and washes, and on alkaline hillsides.
Cultivation Notes:
Ideal conditions for optimal growth of Calliandra californica are full sunlight, dry heat and cool winters (1). It should be watered about once or twice a month for the cold season and weekly for dry summers. Summer watering aids growth and flowering. The Baja fairy duster doesn’t require excessive pruning but does benefit from pruning in the fall and spring time, if a more dense or bushy appearance is desired. The Baja fairy duster should only be cut back if frozen in winter. When pruning this specimen, use selective pruning cuts rather than shearing to preserve its natural form and increase its lifespan. 
C. californica can get frost bitten but shows resistance to most diseases and pests (2). It tolerates temperatures down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The Baja fairy duster has a variable season. If given sufficient water, and kept from freezing, flowering starts in spring, slows down in the summer, and continues through fall into the next spring. If frozen during the winter, C. californica starts blooming in late spring, and continues through fall. 
 Calliandra californica is almost identical to Calliandra peninsularis, and there are many hybrids available. 
Humans have used the roots of C. californica as red dye for leather. Folk decoctions from the Baja fairy duster have been used to treat cystitis, kidney ache, urethritis, prostate inflammation, cramps, fever, and toothache (6).
In modern landscapes, C. californica functions as a container plant. It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, and combines well with other arid plants. 

Height: 0 - 5 feet
Width: 0 - 5 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate Growing
Grow Season:
Flower Season: Spring
Color: Red
Function: Accent
Spread: Spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Benign
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Semi-hardy
Water Use: Moderate Water Use

  6. nativesnowsocal
  7. Star, Greg. Starr Nursery. Personal Communication.

Calliandra californica