electric flowers

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fairy duster
calliandra eriophylla
fabaceae

  • to about 3' tall, wide

  • reddish pink to white (usually pink) flowers

  • moderate to low water (terrace to top zones)

  • FULL SUN 

  • HARDY TO ABOUT 10°F

  • NECTAR PLANT FOR NATIVE BEES, BUTTERFLIES, HUMMINGBIRDS, AND PROVIDES SEEDS FOR BIRDS AND MAMMALS.

If you spend any time hiking in the Tucson Basin, you have come across (and have heartily admired) the fairy duster (Calliandra eriophylla) growing along washes, on slopes and mesas, from about 2,000-5,000 ft. The flowers are most often pink, but sometimes white to almost entirely red. Even the whitish hues have an electric quality to them--the flowers look like fiber-optics which absorb, then radiate light. This quality is especially pretty during the sunrise/sunset. 

This little shrub usually grows to about 3' tall and wide, though often found much smaller. It can be pruned to a tidy location if desired (though, why wouldn't you give this beauty all the room it needs?) and will reward you with flowers most heavily in spring. It may sporadically flower most of the rest of the year, sometimes flushing out again during the monsoon. Fairy duster can take temperatures as low as 10°F. 

As expected, this is another one of those wildlife, keystone species. So many creatures depend on the fairy duster: Hummingbirds, moths, butterflies, and native bees love the flower nectar. Seed eating birds, especially quail, eat the seeds, 

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Katherine Gierlach