Calliandra spp.   Benth. 1840

pronounced: kall-ee-AND-ruh species

(Mimosaceae —  the wattle family)

common names: Fairy Duster, Duster

calliandrapink fairy duster calliandrapink fairy dusterThe name Calliandra is derived from two Greek words, καλλος (kallos),  beauty, and ανδρος (andros), a man, so means ‘beautiful male’, or ‘beautiful stamens’.

It grows as either a shrub or a small tree, native to tropical and sub-tropical North and South America, India and West Africa.

calliandrared fairy dustercalliandrared fairy dusterThese plants produce a fair amount of nectar, and attract the various honey-eating birds, as well as bees and butterflies. They are legumes, and so help soil fertility.

The leaves are pinnate, with the final pair of leaflets larger than the lower pairs.

The flowers are individually quite small, but are clustered in large and showy inflorescences.

calliandrabudscalliandra seed podsseed podsThere are a couple of hundred species and many cultivars. Most of these have common names which include ‘powder puff’ or ‘fairy duster’. The ones featured in this article are of the ‘fairy duster’ type, and I am not at all sure of species or cultivar.

The red specimen might well be Calliandra compacta (small calliandra) or Calliandra californica (Californian calliandra). 

calliandra seed podsmature seed podThe pink one may be a cultivar of Calliandra eriophylla (woolly plant calliandra) or, probably more likely, of Calliandra surinamensis (Surinam calliandra).

Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2004-2011 

Page last updated 8th August 2018







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