Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Caesalpinia pulcherrima
(peacock flower)

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Datasheet

Caesalpinia pulcherrima (peacock flower)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 13 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Caesalpinia pulcherrima
  • Preferred Common Name
  • peacock flower
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. pulcherrima is a fast-growing shrub or small tree in the legume family. It is listed as ‘naturalised’, ‘cultivation escape’, and ‘weed’ in the Global Compendium of Weeds (...

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Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Sw.

Preferred Common Name

  • peacock flower

Other Scientific Names

  • Poinciana pulcherrima L.

International Common Names

  • English: Barbados flowerfence; Barbados-pride; dwarf poinciana; flower-fence; paradise flower; paradise-flower; pride-of-Barbados
  • Spanish: caballero; clavellina colorada (Nicaragua); flor borbona (Spain); flor de bona; guacamaya (Spain); tabachin (Honduras)
  • French: flamboyant; orgueil de Chine; petit flamboyant
  • Chinese: jin feng hua
  • Portuguese: flor-de-paraiso

Local Common Names

  • Bahamas: Barbados pride
  • Cook Islands: ‘ova‘i (Maori); ovai (Maori); pi tiare (Maori)
  • Dominican Republic: carzazo; clavellina; macat; macata
  • Germany: Zwerg- Poinciane
  • Guam: kabayeros
  • Haiti: francillade; francillade à fleurs jaunes; francillade à fleurs rouges; francillane; pincillade; poincillade
  • Jamaica: pride of Barbados
  • Lesser Antilles: baraguette; dwarf poinciana; fleur de paon; flower fence; flower pride; macata; oeillet d'Espagne; Spanish carnation
  • Maldives: fa’thangu
  • Marshall Islands: emenawa; jeimata; jeimota; jemata
  • Micronesia, Federated states of: niikaéeé; rapotin; repawtin; seh muatah; sehmwida; sem tah; semutha; shimatada; simmata; simota; warapig; warepik; waripik
  • Nicaragua: malinche
  • Niue: fisihetau; fitihetau
  • Northern Mariana Islands: kabayeros (Chamorro)
  • Puerto Rico: clavellina; doddledo; dul-dul
  • Saint Lucia: fle makata
  • Samoa: lau pa; lau pa
  • Somalia: mallinni
  • Suriname: boontje krere krere; sabinabloem
  • Tonga: 'ohai; piu

EPPO code

  • CAEPU (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)

Summary of Invasiveness

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C. pulcherrima is a fast-growing shrub or small tree in the legume family. It is listed as ‘naturalised’, ‘cultivation escape’, and ‘weed’ in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012). The species is considered native to Asia and introduced to the West Indies and tropical regions around the world, as it has been cultivated for its striking and colorful flowers (Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012). It reproduces by seeds, which are produced profusely and are self-propelled by its dehiscent pods upon maturity (Pulle et al., 1976; Puy et al., 2002). Although the species currently has a low risk of invasiveness score of 5 [score of 6 and above = reject the plant for import (Australia) or species likely to be of high risk (Pacific and Florida (U.S.)] (PIER, 2014), it is known to be invasive in parts of Australia, Ecuador, the Philippines and Cuba (Merrill, 1923; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; PIER, 2014).

C. pulcherrima is considered a weed in central Africa and southern Florida (Randall, 2012) and known to be a cultivation escape in Puerto Rico (Liogier and Martorell, 2000), Madagascar (Puy et al., 2002), and parts of the Caribbean (Howard, 1988; Graveson et al., 2012). In the Netherlands Antilles, C. pulcherrima is listed as a species known to be invasive elsewhere but without sufficient information available to determine its potential threat to the Dutch Caribbean (Burg et al., 2012). It is widely cultivated and has naturalized in many parts of the tropics including Micronesia, Mexico, Galapagos, and parts of Ecuador (Randall, 2012). In South America, it is possibly naturalized in parts of the Guiana Shield (Guyana, Suriname, and French Guianas) (Boggan et al., 1997; Funk et al., 2007).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
  •                                 Genus: Caesalpinia
  •                                     Species: Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Caesalpinia is a pantropical genus of over 100 species, primarily American (Wagner and Lorence, 2014). The genus was formally named by Linnaeus in 1753 in honor of Andrea Caesalpinio (1524-1603), Italian botanist, philosopher, and physician to Pope Clement VIII, and is based on four species, three of which are now no longer considered to be Caesalpinia sensu strict (Lewis, 1998). The species C. pulcherrima was originally named Poinciana pulcherrima by Linnaeus in 1753, and was moved into its current genus by Swartz. The species name pulcherrima comes from the Latin word ‘pulcher’, meaning beauty.

Description

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Shrub to 3-4 m tall, the branches with short scattered prickles. Leaves alternate bipinnate, pinnae 4-8 pairs, each with 7-11 pairs of elliptic, obtuse, obliquely inequilateral light green leaflets about 2-2.5 cm long; flowers red-and-yellow, or (var. flava) all yellow, the petals crinkly-edged, in long terminal racemes; filaments longer than petals, red; pod coriaceous, oblong, smooth, brown to black, to 10 cm long, several-seeded; seeds compressed, brown, usually 6-8 per pod [Stone, 1970].

Shrub or small tree, unarmed or armed with spines or recurved prickles on branches, leaf rachises, and sometimes on nerves. Leaves are bipinnately compound, leaflets opposite or occasionally alternate, stipules various, large and leafy or minute. Flowers are caesalpinaceous, perfect or unisexual, in terminal and/or axillary racemes that are often aggregated into branched paniculate inflorescences, bracts caducous, bracteoles absent; calyx tube short, 5 lobed, lower lobe often covering the others, hood like; petals 5, imbricate, subequal or the upper one smaller and with a more developed claw; stamens 10, distinct, alternately longer and shorter; ovules usually 2-10. Fruit pods are flattened, rarely cylindrical, dehiscent or indehiscent, winged along the upper suture or unwinged. Seeds are 1-9, transversely arranged, ellipsoid or subglobose [Wagner and Lorence, 2014]. In its natural form in North America the species grows as a low branched, full, widespreading shrub about 10 feet tall and wide and requires plenty of room (Gillman and Watson, 2011).

Distribution

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C. pulcherrima is native to Asia and an early introduction to the West Indies (Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012), although it is considered native to tropical America by some sources (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014; PIER, 2014). For Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, PIER (2014) lists the species as ‘uncertain if native’, but cites ILDIS 2011; ILDIS (2014) however treats the species as introduced.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
BhutanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
Brunei DarussalamPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
CambodiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
ChinaPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014; ILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
-FujianPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-GuangdongPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014; ILDIS, 2014
-GuangxiPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014; ILDIS, 2014
-HainanPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
-Hong KongPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
-YunnanPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014; ILDIS, 2014
Christmas Island (Indian Ocean)PresentIntroduced Invasive ILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
IndiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-Andhra PradeshPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-Arunachal PradeshPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-AssamPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-Indian PunjabPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-KarnatakaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-LakshadweepPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-Madhya PradeshPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-OdishaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-RajasthanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-Tamil NaduPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-TripuraPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-Uttar PradeshPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-West BengalPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-Irian JayaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-JavaPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-MoluccasPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
-Nusa TenggaraPresentNativeILDIS, 2014Lesser Sunda Is.
-SumatraPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
IraqPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
JapanPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
LaosPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-SabahPresentNativeILDIS, 2014
MaldivesPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014Male Atoll
MyanmarPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
NepalPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
PakistanPresent only in captivity/cultivationFlora of Pakistan, 2014; ILDIS, 2014
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedMerrill, 1923; ILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
Saudi ArabiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
SingaporePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive Chong et al., 2009; ILDIS, 2014'Cultivated only'
Sri LankaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
TaiwanPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014; ILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
ThailandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
VietnamPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
YemenPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014South Yemen

Africa

AldabraPresentILDIS, 2014Aldabra; Amirantes Group
AngolaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
Central African RepublicPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
ComorosPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
Côte d'IvoirePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
EgyptPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
Equatorial GuineaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
GhanaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
KenyaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
LiberiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
MadagascarWidespreadIntroducedPuy et al., 2002; ILDIS, 2014
MalawiPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
MaliPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
MauritiusPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
NigerPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
NigeriaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
RéunionPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
Rodriguez IslandPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
SeychellesPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014Fregate I
Sierra LeonePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
SomaliaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
South AfricaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
UgandaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
ZambiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014

North America

MexicoPresentNativeILDIS, 2014North, central, southeast
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2014
-FloridaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2014
-TexasPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Young, 2008; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Young, 2008; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
ArubaPresentIntroducedBurg et al., 2012
BahamasPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
BarbadosPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Young, 2008; ILDIS, 2014
BelizePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
BonairePresentIntroducedBurg et al., 2012
British Virgin IslandsPresentAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Guana
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
CuraçaoPresentBurg et al., 2012; Burg et al., 2012
DominicaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Young, 2008; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
GrenadaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Young, 2008; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
HondurasPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
JamaicaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
Leeward IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
MartiniquePresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Young, 2008; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
MontserratPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Young, 2008; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
PanamaPresentIntroducedFlora of Panama, 2014; ILDIS, 2014; Panama Checklist, 2014Taboga Island, Bocas del Toro, Canal Area, Los Santos, Panamá
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
SabaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Young, 2008; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Young, 2008; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Young, 2008; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014
Sint EustatiusPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Young, 2008; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012
Sint MaartenPresentIntroducedBurg et al., 2012
United States Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012St. John, St. Thomas

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
BoliviaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedBolivia Checklist, 2014; ILDIS, 2014Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, Beni, Pando, Tarija.
BrazilPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010; ILDIS, 2014Including Distrito Federal. Amazonia, Cerrado, Mata Atlantica.
-AcrePresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-AlagoasPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-AmapaPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-AmazonasPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-BahiaPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-CearaPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-GoiasPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-MaranhaoPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-Mato GrossoPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-ParaPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-ParaibaPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-ParanaPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-PernambucoPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-PiauiPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-Rio Grande do NortePresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-Rio Grande do SulPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-RondoniaPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-RoraimaPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-SergipePresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
-TocantinsPresentIntroducedForzza R et al, 2010
ColombiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2014Municipios Andes, Bello, Hispania, Medellín, Santa Fé de Antioquia, Támesis.
EcuadorPresentIntroduced Invasive ILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014; Vascular Plants of Ecuador, 2014Floreana I, Isabela I, Volcan Sierra Negra, San Cristobal I, Santa Cruz I
French GuianaPresentIntroducedBoggan et al., 1997; Funk et al., 2007; ILDIS, 2014
GuyanaPresentIntroducedBoggan et al., 1997; Funk et al., 2007; ILDIS, 2014
ParaguayPresentParaguay Checklist, 2014
PeruPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; Peru Checklist, 2014
SurinamePresentIntroducedBoggan et al., 1997; Funk et al., 2007; ILDIS, 2014
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; ILDIS, 2014Caribbean: Margarita

Oceania

American SamoaPresent only in captivity/cultivationPIER, 2014Ofu Island
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
FijiPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014; Wagner and Lorence, 2014Marquesas Is, Society Is
GuamPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedStone, 1970; PIER, 2014; Wagner et al., 2014
KiribatiPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2014
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014; Wagner et al., 2014Ralik Chain (Ebon, Jaluit), Ratak Chain (Arno, Likiep, Mejit)
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroducedPIER, 2014; Wagner et al., 2014Chuuk is, Kosrae I, Pohnpei Is, Yap Is
NauruPresentWagner et al., 2014
New CaledoniaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2014
NiuePresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014; Wagner et al., 2014Rota I, Saipan I, Tinian I
PalauPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2014
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014; PIER, 2014Including Bismarck Archipelago
Pitcairn IslandPresentIntroducedPIER, 2014
SamoaPresentIntroducedILDIS, 2014
Solomon IslandsPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2014
TongaPIER, 2014Tongatapu Group
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedPIER, 2014

History of Introduction and Spread

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C. pulcherrima is native to Asia and an early introduction to the West Indies (Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012), although it is considered native to tropical America by some sources (Smith, 1985; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014), and by others it is considered an introduction to Asia (Philippines) from tropical America (Merrill, 1923; Alvina and Madulid, 2009).

In the West Indies, the species was certainly in Jamaica by the late seventeenth century. Specimens were collected by Sir Hans Sloane during his voyage to Jamaica in 1687-1689 and brought to London (UK Natural History Museum, 2014). Sloane referred to the species as ‘flower fence of Barbados’, ‘wild Senna’ and ‘Spanish carnation’, and cited Ligon that the species had been carried from the Cape Verde Islands to Barbados before being introduced to Jamaica (Sloane, 1707-1725). Date of introduction to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands is unknown, but it was reportedly ‘already common’ in Puerto Rico by 1881 as reported by Bello (as Poinciana pulcherrima) (Bello Espinosa, 1881).

In South America, the species was already present in Suriname in 1699, as female naturalist Maria Merian illustrated and described its use by the slaves as an emmenagogue and abortifacient (Schiebinger, 2004). It was present in Colombia by 1808; specimens were collected between 1783 and 1808 (JSTOR Global Plants, 2014). In Europe seeds of C. pulcherrima were reportedly being cultivated in France as early as 1822, although considered rare (Die Gesellschaft, 1823). In Africa, the species was observed in Mauritius in 1823 (Die Gesellschaft, 1823), was reported for Sierra Leone, Loanda, and Zanzibar by 1871 (Oliver, 1871), and was present in Ghana by 1935 (Kew collections). In the Pacific, C. pulchirrima was introduced to the Philippines sometime during the Spanish period, 1521-1898 (Alvina and Madulid, 2009) and, while reportedly native to Java, Sumatra, and the Lesser Sunda Islands, is considered to have been introduced to Myanmar, Laos, Singapore, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Marquesas, Marshall Islands, and French Polynesia (ILDIS, 2014).

Today C. pulcherrima is widespread across tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, and the Americas, and cultivated worldwide for its large and striking flowers.

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of introduction of C. pulcherrima is currently low to moderate. It has been intentionally introduced in many tropical and subtropical regions to be used as an ornamental and medicinal plant. It has escaped from cultivation and behaves as a weed (Randall, 2012). Although currently given a risk score of 5 by the PIER Risk Assessment (scores greater than 6 are considered high risk of invasiveness) (PIER, 2014), considering that this species has a fast growth rate spreading 10-12 feet and is evergreen (Gillman and Watson, 2011), has the capability of self-dispersing its proliferate seeds, and is widespread outside of its native range, the probability of invasion may rise in areas near its cultivation (Pulle et al., 1976; Puy et al., 2002; PIER, 2014).

Habitat

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C. pulcherrima tolerates hot, dry areas, and forms an effective thorny barrier (Gillman and Watson, 2011). It has been cultivated primarily as a popular garden ornamental, and often naturalized in the Caribbean (Howard, 1988). Due to its thorny stems the species has also been used in agricultural settings as a living fence, resulting in one of its vernacular names, ‘flower fence’. In St. Lucia it is very common in the mouth of the L’Ivrogne River, very close to floodplains, and elsewhere it escapes from cultivation into adjacent dry wasteland and roadsides (Graveson et al., 2012). In Peru the species prefers disturbed areas and forests (Peru Checklist, 2014).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Wetlands Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

C. pulcherrima has gametophytic count 12; sporophytic count 24, 28 (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2014; IPCN Chromosome Reports, 2014).

Environmental Requirements

In Colombia, C. pulcherrima is found in habitats of “Bosque Húmedo Premontano (bh-PM), Bosque Húmedo Tropical (bh-T), Bosque seco Tropical (bs-t)” and at altitudes of 0-2000 m (Vascular Plants of Antioquia, 2014). It is also found at altitudes of 0-2000 m in Bolivia, where it thrives in rain forest, savannas, and montane forest habitats (Bolivia Checklist, 2014). In Panama the species occurs at altitudes of 0-1000 m (Panama Checklist, 2014).

C. pulcherrima is easily grown in medium moisture, fertile, well-drained soils but can tolerate a variety including clay; sand, loam, alkaline to acidic, well-drained, and salty soil types, with a moderate aerosol salt tolerance (Selvam, 2007; Gillman and Watson, 2011; Floridata, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014).

Light requirements are full sun, partial sun or partial shade, but the species flowers best in full sun (Gillman and Watson, 2011; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014).

Temperature-wise, C. pulcherrima can withstand low temperatures to 30°F (-1°C) and is even known to survive as low as 18°F (-8°C) (Floridata, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014). However, in North America the species may die following frost or freezing temperatures but return in middle spring, and can be grown as an annual in colder climates. Even under frost free conditions, the species may lose its leaves when temperatures drop into the 40's (4-9°C) (Floridata, 2014). 

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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C. pulcherrima seeds are dispersed by both natural and intentional introduction. The species is capable of self-dispersal, as its dehiscent pods explode into 2 spiralling valves upon maturity, propelling the seeds away from the plant (Pulle et al., 1976; Puy et al., 2002). It has been intentionally dispersed by humans across tropical regions for both ornamental and agroforestry (living fence) purposes, but it is fast-growing and is known to have escaped cultivation and sometimes naturalized in non-native habitats (Gillman and Watson, 2011; Randall, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014). 

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Environmental Impact

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C. pulcherrima has been valued as a showy ornamental and as a living barrier fence, resulting in its widespread cultivation pantropically. Although the species was not considered a high risk species of invasiveness (PIER, 2014), it is known to be invasive in parts of Australia, Ecuador, the Philippines and Cuba (Merrill, 1923; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; PIER, 2014). C. pulcherrima possesses several traits that could have negative impact on native flora, including a fast growth rate and spread of 10-12 feet per plant (Selvam 2007; Gillman and Watson, 2011), widespread distribution beyond its native range, and reports of pod and seed toxicity (University of Arizona, 2014), seeds that can remain viable for more than a year, and a tolerance for a wide range of soil types (Selvam, 2007; Gillman and Watson, 2011; Floridata, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014). More research is needed on the species’ invasiveness and its potential negative impact on the environment.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - shading
  • Poisoning
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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C. pulcherrima has been cultivated primarily as a popular garden ornamental, has often naturalized in the Caribbean (Howard, 1988), and is often seen in cultivation in the Canal Zone and other tropical regions (Flora of Panama, 2014).

The species has also been used in agroforestry, as it has sharp prickles along its stems, leading to the sometimes used common name of Barbados flower fence because of its use in the West Indies as a flowering barrier fence (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014).

C. pulcherrima has reportedly been used as food; in Mexico and Nicaragua, green seed pods are boiled or cooked and eaten (Flora of Nicaragua, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014).

This species has been used in various cultures for medicinal purposes. Ailments treated include gastritis and intestinal inflammation, diarrhoea and dysentery (tea from leaves), flatulence, ulcers and hepatitis (leaves), and uterine dysfunction (bark and flowers), and from some of the earliest documentations of the species in the Amazon, as an emmenagogue and to induce abortions (Schiebinger, 2004). It is a common medicinal herb in Taiwan, and has been used in common remedies for treatment of a number of disorders including pyrexia, menoxenia, wheezing, bronchitis and malarial infection (Chiang et al., 2003). In Pakistan the roots are used for infantile convulsions, the flowers for intestinal worms, coughs and chronic catarrh and the leaves as a purgative and abortifacient  (Flora of Pakistan, 2014). A 2011 study found leaves of the species collected in Malaysia contained antioxidant and antibacterial agents, especially for MRSA infections (Chew et al., 2011).

In Panama, the leaves have been reported as used for fish poison (Flora of Panama, 2014); similarly in Nicaragua, leaves are thrown into the water to stun fish (Flora of Nicaragua, 2014).

C. pulcherrima has also been used for dying cloth, as fruits and roots contain tannins (Flora of Nicaragua, 2014; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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One of the common names of C. pulcherrima is dwarf poinciana, and in fact Linneaus originally named it Poinciana pulcherrima, in recognition of the similarity (although of smaller size) of the flowers of this shrub to the flowers of royal poinciana (Delonix regia) (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2014).

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez P; Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

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Chew YL; Ling CEW; Tan PL; , 2011. Assessment of phytochemical content, polyphenolic composition, antioxidant and antibacterial activities of Leguminosae medicinal plants in Peninsular Malaysia. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 11:12.

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Gillman EF; Watson DG, 2011. Caesalpinia pulcherrima: Dwarf Poinciana. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), University of Florida website. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st107

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IPCN Chromosome Reports, 2014. Index to Plant Chromosome Numbers (IPCN), Tropicos website. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://tropicos.org/Project/IPCN

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Catalogue of Seed Plants of the West Indieshttp://botany.si.edu/antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm
Flora of Micronesia websitehttp://botany.si.edu/pacificislandbiodiversity/micronesia/index.htm
Flora of the Hawaiian Islands websitehttp://botany.si.edu/pacificislandbiodiversity/hawaiianflora/index.htm
Flora of the Marquesas websitehttp://botany.si.edu/pacificislandbiodiversity/marquesasflora/query.cfm
USFS Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)http://www.hear.org/pier/

Contributors

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12/5/2014 Original text by:

Marianne Jennifer Datiles, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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