This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Andreas Caesalpinus, 1519-1603, Italian Botanist)
Leguminosae. Brasiletto. Including Guilandina, and Poinciana in part. Ornamental tropical or subtropical trees or shrubs chiefly grown for their showy flowers and also for their attractive finely divided foliage; some species yield tanning materials and dye-stuff.
Calyx with short tube and 5 imbricated lobes, the lowest concave and larger; petals 5, clawed, usually orbicular or obovate and nearly equal; stamens 10, curved; ovary sessile with few ovules and a slender elongated style: pod ovate to lanceolate, usually compressed, often indehiscent. - About 30 species in tropical and semi-tropical regions. The genus belongs to the subfamily Caesalpinioideae, in which the flowers are not papilionaceous, and is allied to Gleditsia.
Caesalpinias are armed or unarmed trees or shrubs, rarely climbers, with finely divided bipinnate leaves and conspicuous yellow or sometimes partly red flowers in racemes, often forming terminal panicles. Many species are very showy in flower and are favorities in tropical and subtropical countries; in this country they can be grown only in Florida and southern California except C. japonica, which is the hardiest species and will probably stand the winter in sheltered locations as far north as Washington, D. C. They are also grown sometimes in warm glasshouses.
Propagation is readily effected by seeds, which should be well soaked in warm water for some hours before sowing. A sandy soil should be chosen for the seedbed, and lightly shaded. After the plants show the first true leaf, they should be potted off into small pots of ordinary garden soil, not too rich, made light by the addition of sand, if of a clayey nature. The plants grow very rapidly, and must be shifted into larger pots as their size requires for greenhouse culture, but in tropical climates may be transplanted into permanent positions outdoors after they reach a fair size in pots. The dwarf species are elegant subjects for subtropical gardening during the summer months in temperate climates, provided a sunny location is given them, as they revel in rather dry very warm soil, and do not require artificial watering after being established. A rocky, sunny situation may be given C. pulcherrima and its variety flava, where they will bloom during many weeks of summer, until frost checks them, if strong plants about a foot high are selected in early summer. Care should be taken to harden off plants gradually in the house, so that they may not be chilled when transplanted outdoors.
While they will do well in a poor soil, an application of manure or chemical fertilizer may be given them to advantage, causing them to make a more vigorous growth and give better and larger heads of flowers. In the tropics, and also in subtropical climates, these shrubs and trees are always admired and are commonly planted for ornament. The royal poinciana (C. regia, but properly Poinciana regia, which see), and also the dwarf poinciana, or flower-fence (C. pulcherrima), will thrive in close proximity to the sea, and are valuable for planting in exposed coast situations. (E. N. Reasoner.) a. Stamens long-exserted: flowers very showy: trees, unarmed or nearly so. Gilliesii, Wall. Shrub or small tree, with very many small leaflets, scarcely 1/2 in. long, oblong, obtuse, glabrous: flowers light yellow, with brilliant red stamens protruding 3-5 in., in terminal racemes; sepals hairy-fringed. S. Amer. B.M. 4006 (as Poinciana Gilliesii, Hook.). F.S. 1:61. R.H. 1893:400. G.C. III. 15:73. Gn. 76, p. 4. - A very showy and worthy plant which bears in Calif. the popular name of "Bird of Paradise" like Strelitzia Reginae. It will stand a temperature as low as 20° F.
Swartz. Barbados Pride. Barbados Flower-Fence. Dwarf Poinciana. Shrub, with few scattered prickles, delicate, evergeen, mimosa-like leaves with 12-18 pinnae, each with 20-24 oblique-oblong leaflets less than 1 in. long, and very gaudy red-and-yellow crisped flowers on the ends of the new growth: stamens and style red, and long-exserted. Generally distributed in the tropics. B.M. 995. P.M. 3:3. Gn. 75, p. 594. - One of the most popular shrubs in warm climates, as S. Fla. There is a variety flava, with yellow flowers pannosa, Brandeg. Medium-sized tree with slender branches spreading horizontally and clothed with white, deciduous bark: leaves decompound; pinnae 2-4, each with 4-6 oblong and retuse leaflets: flowers yellow, showy: pod glandular, 1-2-seeded. Lower Calif. - A rapid-growing species which can be used for fences and is therefore called "palo estaca" in Lower Calif.
Roxbg. Scrambling pubescent shrub: leaves glaucous, slightly pubescent beneath; pinnae 12-20, each with 16-24 oblong leaflets, rounded at both ends, 1/2 1 in. long: flowers yellow in simple stalked racemes. India. -Furnishes dye-wood; also used as a hedge plant.
Sieb. & Zucc. Loose, spreading shrub, armed with stout, recurved prickles: leaves with 6-16 pinnae, each with 10-20 leaflets, oblong, very obtuse: flowers in large, panicle-like clusters, canary-yellow, the stamens bright red. Japan. B.M. 8207. G.C. III. 42:43. R.H. 1912:60. Gn. 40:588; 61, p. 81; 76, p. 411. J.H. III. 34:531; 51:181. - Endures the winters in some parts of England. The hardiest species of the genus, probably hardy as far north as Washington, D. C.
Nuga, Ait. Vigorous climber: branches flexuose with copious hooked prickles: leaves glabrous; pinnae 4-6, each with 4-6 ovate-obtuse leaflets 1 1/2-2 in. long: flowers bright yellow in large panicles; calyx glabrous: pods ovoid-oblong, 2 in. long, indehiscent, 1-seeded. Himalayas and Philippine Isls. to N. Austral, and Polynesia. Blanco, Flower Filip. 150. dd. Pod prickly: tree. echinata, Lam. Tree, with prickly rusty pubescent branches: leaves unarmed, glabrous; pinnae 5-9, each with 15-20 rhombic-oblong obtuse leaflets 1/2 3/4 in. long: flowers yellow in axillary and terminal racemes; calyx pubescent; stamens shorter than petals: pod oblong, 3 in. long. Brazil. Flower Brasil. 15, 2:22- Yields dye-wood.
bb. leaflets acute or mucronulate: pod prickly.
Hance. Diffuse shrub, thorny: pinnae 10, with 12-20 ovate-lanceolate glabrous leaflets 1-1 1/2 in. long: racemes panicled, many-flowered, with very large bracts: flowers white and purple: pods 7-seeded (seeds large and black), prickly. China.
Bonduc, Roxbg. Climbing shrub, with prickly, pubescent bipinnate leaves, oblong-ovate mucronate leaflets 1 1/2-3 in. long, yellow flowers, and a few large yellow seeds in a short, prickly pod. Tropics; S. Fla.
C. bijuga, Swartz (Acacia Bancroftiana, Bert.). Spiny shrub, with ultimate leaflets in 2 pairs: flowers paniculate. Jamaica. - C. kau-aiinsis, Mann=Mezoneuron kauaiense. - C. ragia, Dietr.=Poin-ciana regia. - C. vernalis, Champ. Tall climbing prickly shrub: flowers in racemes. China. B.M. 8132.
L. H. B. and Alfred Rehder.