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Calliandra spp. Benth. 1840
pronounced: kall-ee-AND-ruh species
(Mimosaceae — the wattle family)
common names: Fairy Duster, Duster
The 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. These 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 flowers are individually quite small, but are clustered in large and showy inflorescences. The leaves are pinnate, with the final pair of leaflets larger than the lower pairs.
There 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). The pink one may be a cultivar of Calliandra eriophylla (woolly plant calliandra) or, probably more likely, of Calliandra surinamensis (Surinam calliandra).
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Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2004-2011
Page last updated 14th October 2016