Calliandra calothyrsus*

Invasive species Disclaimer

In view of the fact that some tree species are invasive, the world Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) has put in place a policy document on Invasive Alien Species, currently under draft available at Here.

For more information on this subject, please refer to
100 of the World's worst Invasive and Alien Species.




Species Index    A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Multiple Criteria Search


Abelmoschus moschatus
Acacia aneura
Acacia angustissima
Acacia aulacocarpa
Acacia auriculiformis
Acacia catechu
Acacia cincinnata
Acacia crassicarpa
Acacia elatior
Acacia erioloba
Acacia etbaica
Acacia ferruginea
Acacia glauca
Acacia holosericea
Acacia karroo*
Acacia koa
Acacia laeta
Acacia lahai
Acacia leptocarpa
Acacia leucophloea
Acacia mangium
Acacia mearnsii*
Acacia melanoxylon
Acacia mellifera
Acacia nilotica subsp nilotica
Acacia pachycarpa
Acacia pennatula
Acacia polyacantha ssp. polyacantha
Acacia saligna
Acacia senegal
Acacia seyal
Acacia sieberiana
Acacia tortilis
Acacia xanthophloea
Acrocarpus fraxinifolius
Adansonia digitata
Adenanthera pavonina
Aegle marmelos
Afzelia africana
Afzelia quanzensis
Agathis macrophylla
Agathis philippinensis
Ailanthus altissima
Ailanthus excelsa
Ailanthus triphysa
Albizia adianthifolia
Albizia amara
Albizia anthelmintica
Albizia chinensis
Albizia coriaria
Albizia ferruginea
Albizia gummifera
Albizia julibrissin
Albizia lebbeck
Albizia odoratissima
Albizia procera
Albizia saman
Albizia versicolor
Albizia zygia
Aleurites moluccana
Allanblackia floribunda
Allanblackia stuhlmannii
Allanblackia ulugurensis
Alnus acuminata
Alnus cordata
Alnus japonica
Alnus nepalensis
Alnus rubra
Alphitonia zizyphoides
Alstonia boonei
Alstonia congensis
Alstonia scholaris
Altingia excelsa
Anacardium occidentale
Andira inermis
Annona cherimola
Annona muricata
Annona reticulata
Annona senegalensis
Annona squamosa
Anogeissus latifolia
Anthocephalus cadamba
Antiaris toxicaria
Antidesma bunius
Araucaria bidwillii
Araucaria cunninghamii
Arbutus unedo
Areca catechu
Arenga pinnata
Argania spinosa
Artemisia annua
Artocarpus altilis
Artocarpus camansi
Artocarpus heterophyllus
Artocarpus integer
Artocarpus lakoocha
Artocarpus mariannensis
Asimina triloba
Ateleia herbert-smithii
Aucomea klaineana
Averrhoa bilimbi
Averrhoa carambola
Azadirachta excelsa
Azadirachta indica
Azanza garckeana
Related Links
Flowers showing nectar release.
© Anthony Simons
Unripe green pods of C. calothyrsus. Pods ripen progressively up the flowering shoots and when ripe dehisce explosively from the tip.
© Colin E. Hughes
Calliandra calothyrsus: Fodder bank: Farmer with Calliandra row in Embu, Kenya.
© Alan Pottinger
Calliandra calothyrsus: Shade trees: Tea plantations in Sri Lanka.
© Alan Pottinger
Calliandra calothyrsus: Immature pods
© Alan Pottinger
Calliandra calothyrsus: Mature pods
© Alan Pottinger
Flowers unfurling as they open at 1600hrs in La Ceiba, Honduras
© Anthony Simons
Seed orchard in Malava, Kenya
© Anthony Simons
Feeding pigs with calliandra in Maseno, Kenya
© Anthony Simons

Calliandra calothyrsus is a small, thornless, often multistemmed shrub. Under optimum conditions it can attain a height of 12 m and a trunk diameter of 30 cm, but its average height is 5-6 m and diameter 20 cm. Bark colour varies from white to dark red-brown and is normally glabrous but occasionally can be finely pubescent. It has both superficial and deep-growing roots. Sometimes a taproot is formed.

Leaves alternate, petiolate, bipinnately compound, 10-19 cm long and without an upper waxy sheen. Pinnae vary in number from 6 to 20 pairs and possess 19-60 pairs of linear, acute or obtuse leaflets.

Flowers in a subterminal inflorescence with numerous long, hairlike stamens. Flowers and sepals green, staminal filaments purple or red.

Fruits broadly linear and flattened with a pod 8-13 cm long which breaks open, each half curling back to set free 3-15 shiny, black seeds. Pods 11-16 mm wide, long, attenuate to the base and sharply acute at the apex.

The generic epithet Calliandra is derived from 'calli' meaning beautiful and 'andra' for the male floral parts describes the beautiful and prominent anthers characteristic of this leguminous plant. The specific epithet describes the equally beautiful inflorescence of the species.

Ecology

Although originally described from Surinam, where it was probably introduced, C. calothyrsus is native to humid and subhumid Central America from southern Mexico to central Panama, 8-19 deg. N. 

The species occurs in secondary vegetation, often in thickets. It is an aggressive colonizer on disturbed sites such as recent landslides and roadsides. Best development occurs at moderate elevations below 1300 m. On Java, the species is planted up to 1500 m altitude, but it grows best between 250-800 m in areas with 2000-4000 mm annual rainfall and a 3-6 month dry period. Growth decreases on compacted soils and trees die after 2 weeks of oxygen depletion due to waterlogging.

Native range
Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama

Tree management

C. calothyrsus is fast growing, easy to regenerate and manage. Because seedlings grow quickly, no special plantation management is needed, except for weeding in the 1st year. On infertile soils, fertilizer will improve early growth, although C. calothyrsus is less responsive to fertilizer than other tree legumes. In alley-cropping systems, C. calothyrsus should be pruned in cycles or up to 4 months to limit shade on associated crops. Highest yields obtained from coppicing when cut at 1 m. With seedlings, root pruning and side pruning is recommended to keep taproot checked and to encourage lateral root development.

Orthodox storage behaviour; viability can be maintained for several years in hermetic storage at 3 deg. C with 6-10% mc. There are approximately 19 000 seeds/kg.

Although originally described from Surinam, where it was probably introduced, C. calothyrsus is native to humid and subhumid Central America from southern Mexico to central Panama, 8-19 deg. N. 

The species occurs in secondary vegetation, often in thickets. It is an aggressive colonizer on disturbed sites such as recent landslides and roadsides. Best development occurs at moderate elevations below 1300 m. On Java, the species is planted up to 1500 m altitude, but it grows best between 250-800 m in areas with 2000-4000 mm annual rainfall and a 3-6 month dry period. Growth decreases on compacted soils and trees die after 2 weeks of oxygen depletion due to waterlogging.

Accepted methods include direct sowing and seedlings. C. calothyrsus is best established from seedlings simultaneously with crop planting. It can also be propagated from stem cuttings. The pretreatment procedure is to immerse in hot water, allow cooling and soaking for 12-24 hours, or soak in cold water for 24 hours, or seeds can germinate without pretreatment and be sown directly. Seed germination occurs after 4 days and continues for 21 days with most seed germinating between 10 and 25 days from sowing.

Erosion control: C. calothyrsus can be used to rehabilitate erosion-prone areas and recover land exhausted by agriculture, where it easily dominates undesired weeds such as Eupatrium spp., Saccharum spp., and Imperata cylindrica. 

Leaves and pods are rich in protein and do not contain any toxic substances. Protein content is 22% (dry matter) and annual fodder yield (dry matter) amounts to about 7-10 t/ha. The fodder can be given to all types of ruminants and fulfils 40-60% of their needs. Although no toxic substances have been found in the foliage, high concentrations of condensed tannins (up to 11%) have been reported, which may reduce the digestibility of protein for livestock to about 40%.  Freshly cut (4-6 hours) forage has a higher digestibility value (60-80%). For fodder production, spacing can be dense: 0.5 x 0.5 m to 0.75 x 0.75 m. In Asia, it is planted in rice field dikes to produce fodder for fish.

Apiculture:  Flowers contain nectar and because flowering lasts throughout the year bee keeping is profitable.  The honey produced by C. calothyrsus has a pleasant bitter sweet flavour. A production of one t of honey/ha has been reported.

A good firewood species because it is fast growing, multi-stemmed, easy to regenerate and thornless. One year after planting, annual wood yields have been reported in the order of 15-40 t/ha with annual coppice harvests continuing for 10-20 years. Yields from C. calothyrsus are extremely good in coppice; after being cut at 50 cm from the ground, 3 m high coppices are formed in only 6 months rotation. The rootstock is very vigorous and will sprout readily. For firewood, optimum spacing is 1 x 2 m with a minimum of 1 x 1 m. Returns from charcoal production are higher than fuelwood because the wood is a quick burner. C. calothyrsus can produce 14 t/ha of charcoal annually. Wood is suitable as a smoking fuel for the production of smoked sheet rubber. There has been a demand for smoking fuel since old rubber trees, the traditional source, are increasingly used by furniture manufacturers.

Fibre:  The pulp and papermaking properties of C. calothyrsus are satisfactory and are comparable to dipterocarps and appropriate for kraft paper manufacture. C. calothyrsus pulp is easily bleached, but wood dimensions are generally small, making handling and chipping difficult. The wood is also suitable for pulp and papermaking and is used in Asia. 

Shade or shelter: C. calothyrsus is often planted as a shade tree around houses. The dense foliage provides protective cover against sun and rain. In forestry it is used as a nurse tree for partially shade-tolerant timber trees such as Agathis species.

Nitrogen fixing:  Roots are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen because of the symbiosis with Rhizobium bacteria (to which root nodules bear witness) and the symbiosis with root fungus.

Ornamental:  Its beautiful red ‘powder puff’ flowers make it an attractive ornamental.

Suitable for hedgerow boundaries.

Soil improver:  High leaf biomass production and high yields of protein leaf material on less fertile soils make it very suitable as a green manure and it is used in alley-cropping systems. Due to litter and the combination of a deep and well-developed lateral rooting system, the soil and productivity of the land is improved. However, the relatively high level of tannins present in its leaves slows the rate of microbial breakdown of the organic matter.

Intercropping: C. calothyrsus is compatible with crops, with both deep roots and extensive fibrous roots. It has shown promise as an understorey plant in coconut plantations with about 60% light transmission.