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Calliandra eriophylla Benth.
Pink Fairyduster, Fairyduster, Mesquitilla, Mock Mesquite
Fabaceae (Pea Family)
Synonym(s): Calliandra eriophylla var. chamaedrys, Calliandra eriophylla var. eriophylla
USDA Symbol: CAER
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
Fairy-duster is a straggling, densely branched, deciduous shrub to 3 ft., though usually much shorter, with grayish-pubescent leaflets, flowers and pods. The petals of fairy duster are inconspicuous; it is the long, pink filaments of the stamens that make the showy display.
This little shrub is an inconspicuous part of the arid landscape most of the year, but in spring the exquisite clusters of flowers with their many long stamens form delicate, pink balls, giving the plant a fluffy pink appearance in full bloom. It belongs to a group of mostly tropical woody plants that includes acacias and mimosas.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Bipinnate
Fruit Type: Legume
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Flower: Stamens white
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul
Bloom Notes: Sometimes blooms again in fall after rains.
DistributionUSA: AZ , CA , NM , TX
Native Distribution: W. TX to s.e. CA & adjacent Mex.
Native Habitat: Dry, gravelly slopes & mesas
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Dry, gravelly soils, neutral alkaline.
Conditions Comments: Low densely branching plant with small compound leaves and 2" flowering balls, formed by the long pink filaments of 20 or more exerted stamens emerging from small clustered flowers. Seeds will typically germinate without pretreatment; however, nicking will generally hasten and unify germinatation. Seedlings are fast growing and easy to move to larger containers. It prefers dry, gravelly soils in full sun but will accept partial shade althought will flower less. Though slow-growing, fairy duster is valuable as erosion control. It is extremely drought-tolerant and somewhat resistant to browsing. Tip-prune to increase density.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Works well as an informal hedge and in medians (size is well constrained). Good choice for dry desert and rock gardens with limited space. It can tolerate some shade, but will flower most profusely in full sun. Its dense root system provides erosion control.
Use Wildlife: Calliandra eriophylla is highly palatable to deer. Its flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and quail eat its seeds.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes
PropagationDescription: Sow seeds when soil is warm.
Seed Treatment: Seed coats are hard and require a hot-water treatment for germination.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
BibliographyBibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 36 - Jepson eFlora (2019) The Jepson Herbarium, University of California, Berkeley
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter 1995 VOL. 12, NO.3 - Explore the Big Bend With the Wildflower Center, Education Director\'s Report, T...
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Calliandra eriophylla in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Calliandra eriophylla in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Calliandra eriophylla
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-12-21
Research By: DEW, JSC, RLU