Poinciana pulcherrima (Barbados Pride, Red bird of Paradise) , is a flowering plant native to the tropical regions of the Caribbean, including Barbados. It belongs to the Fabaceae family, which is the pea family.
Appearance: Poinciana pulcherrima is a deciduous shrub or small tree that can reach a height of 3 to 5 meters (10 to 16 feet) and has a spreading, open crown. It features attractive fern-like leaves that are pinnately compound, with multiple pairs of leaflets arranged along a central stalk. The leaves are green and may have a feathery appearance.
Flowers: One of the most striking features of Poinciana pulcherrima is its vibrant flowers. The flowers are large, showy, and have a unique shape. They typically have a reddish-orange to scarlet color, although there are cultivars with variations in color, including yellow and pink. Each flower has five rounded petals, with the uppermost petal forming a prominent "banner" and the two lateral petals resembling wings. The lower two petals are fused to form a boat-shaped structure. The flowers are arranged in dense clusters at the tips of branches and bloom from late spring to early summer.
Fruit: Following the flowering period, Poinciana pulcherrima produces elongated seed pods. These pods are initially green but turn dark brown as they mature. Each pod contains several flat, oval-shaped seeds.
Cultivation: Poinciana pulcherrima thrives in warm tropical and subtropical climates. It prefers full sun exposure and well-drained soil. The plant is known for its tolerance to drought, making it suitable for arid regions. It can be propagated through seeds or stem cuttings.
Ornamental Use: Due to its vibrant and eye-catching flowers, Poinciana pulcherrima is often cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes. It adds a splash of color and tropical charm to any setting. In addition to its aesthetic value, the plant also attracts pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Cultural Significance: Poinciana pulcherrima holds cultural significance in the Caribbean and other tropical regions where it is native. In Barbados, for example, it is the national flower and is often associated with national pride and beauty.