Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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The Seeds That Were Silent All Burst Into Bloom

A red powder puff (Calliandra haematocephala) flower head at the Castellow Hammock Preserve and Nature Center.

22301 SW 162nd Avenue, Miami, Florida: Sunday, 17 January 2021

part of the Castellow Hammock Preserve and Nature Center album

After I was fortunate to photograph a ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) — see The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Pictorial — at Castellow Hammock Preserve and Nature Center in agricultural and rural western Miami-Dade County, I noticed a fascinating plant flowering nearby, the red powder puff (Calliandra haematocephala).

The red powder puff is a "large, multiple-trunked, low-branching, evergreen shrub [with] silky leaflets that are glossy copper when new, turning to a dark metallic green." Its most noticeable feature are its large blooming flowers, which are "two to three inches across, of watermelon pink, deep red, or white silky stamens, produced during warm months." The buds resemble raspberries prior to the flowers opening.

Although non-native to North America, red powder puff is "not considered a problem species" in Florida. Its range includes South Florida and parts of Central Florida; areas of southern Texas, Arizona, Nevada and California; and coastal California. Their presence at Castellow Hammock is logical as they are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.