This flamboyant flower can be seen growing in the borders in front of the Tropical Houses.
Commonly called either the bird of paradise shrub, or crimson threadflower, Caesalpinia gilliesii is a distinct species bearing erect racemes of yellow flowers with extended red stamens. An evergreen member of the pea family (Fabaceae), the leaves are typical of the Fabaceae, being bipinnate and delicate, and the seeds are contained in a flattened seed pod which splits when ripe and explosively catapults seed into the wider landscape. Occurring from Brazil to Argentina, it is of borderline hardiness, requiring either a sheltered situation in the open garden, as here, or glasshouse protection over winter, and can reach up to 3m in height. Caesalpinia is named in honour of the Italian botanist Andreas Cesalpini (1519 – 1603), and the species takes it’s name from a Scottish naval surgeon, John Gillies (1792 – 1834) who botanised in Chile and Argentina.