Plant Collector: Calliandra, probably eriophylla

Calliandra (probably eriophylla) - like a strawberry pink starburst

Calliandra (probably eriophylla) – like a strawberry pink starburst

Oh my but the calliandra has been putting on a wonderful impersonation of candy floss (fairy floss) in recent weeks. What is more, this is its second flowering for the season. We are impressed. This plant is in the never-never land of our former nursery area where it has survived on complete and utter neglect, having rooted through from its pot. It is beyond transplanting out to the garden but fortunately we have a few grown from cutting which we will be rushing out to prime spots after this summer’s performance. We just don’t have too many areas in the garden which are hot, dry, desert-like even, frost-free and bearing much resemblance to its homelands of Arizona, Texas and Mexico.

If we are right and it is C. eriophylla, its common name is Fairy Duster, though it is sometimes referred to Mock Mesquite. The flowers are clusters of stamens almost like starbursts. Calliandras are members of the legume family (peas, please) which is evident when you look at the fine, leguminous foliage. They are apparently most attractive to humming birds which is not a lot of help to us here, though we wouldn’t mind some exotic humming birds added to our list of introduced species. Some calliandras are herbaceous (leafy, clumping plants) but this is one of the woody shrub types. It is probably our long, hot, dry season this year which has seen it flower so very well in both spring and again in summer.

First published in the , and reprinted here with their permission.