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Calliandra calothyrsus - Meisn.

Common Name Red Calliandra, Powderpuff, Kaliandra
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Secondary vegetation, often in thickets[ 303 ]. It is an aggressive colonizer on disturbed sites such as recent landslides and roadsides[ 303 ]. Dry to wet thickets, often on steep open slopes, at elevations of 300 - 1,800 metres[ 331 ].
Range Central America - central Panama, north to southern Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (5 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Calliandra calothyrsus Red Calliandra, Powderpuff, Kaliandra

Roger Culos wikimedia.org
Calliandra calothyrsus Red Calliandra, Powderpuff, Kaliandra
Forest Starr & Kim Starr http://www.starrenvironmental.com/


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Often cultivated as companion crop and to improve soil conditions, Red Calliandra or Calliandr calothyrsus is a fast-growing, thornless shrub that grows around 5-6 m high. It is multi-stemmed and its leaves contain high levels of tannins. It is also planted as green manure. The wood is used as firewood, fuel, and for charcoal-making. Other names include Powderpuff and Kaliandra.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Calliandra calothyrsus is an evergreen Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects, bats. The plant is not self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Anneslia calothyrsa (Meisn.) Kleinhoonte Anneslia calothyrus (Meisn.) Donn. Sm. Anneslia confusa Bri

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Biomass  Charcoal  Fodder  Fuel  Green manure  Hedge  Paper  Shelterbelt  Soil conditioner  Soil stabilization

Other uses rating: Very High (5/5). The plant can be used to rehabilitate erosion-prone areas such as slopes and stream banks, and to recover land exhausted by agriculture, where it easily dominates undesired weeds such as Eupatorium spp., Saccharum spp., and Imperata cylindrica[ 303 , 418 ]. It is used as a nurse tree for partially shade-tolerant timber trees such as Agathis species[ 303 ]. The ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, high leaf biomass production and high yields of protein leaf material on less fertile soils make this species 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[ 303 ]. However, the relatively high level of tannins present in its leaves slows the rate of microbial breakdown of the organic matter[ 303 ]. It 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[ 303 ]. The plant is suitable for hedgerow boundaries[ 303 ]. The flowers provide a rich source of nectar for bees[ 418 ]. Other Uses The pulp and papermaking properties are satisfactory and are comparable to dipterocarps and appropriate for kraft paper manufacture. The pulp is easily bleached, but wood dimensions are generally small, making handling and chipping difficult[ 303 ]. A good firewood species because it is fast growing, multi-stemmed, easy to regenerate and thornless[ 303 ]. The wood is suitable as a smoking fuel for the production of smoked sheet rubber[ 303 ]. There has been a demand for smoking fuel since old rubber trees, the traditional source, are increasingly used by furniture manufacturers[ 303 ]. The wood is also used to make charcoal[ 320 ]. Calliandra leaves and young shoots provide a high valuable protein source for animals.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Coppice  Food Forest  Hedge  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Alley crop  Agroforestry Services: Contour hedgerow  Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Fodder: Bank  Fodder: Insect  Industrial Crop: Biomass  Management: Coppice  Minor Global Crop

A plant of moderate elevations in the humid and subhumid tropics[ 303 ]. It can succeed at elevations up to 1,800 metres, but does best at 250 - 800 metres[ 303 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 30°c, but can tolerate 18 - 34°c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 - 4,000mm, but tolerates 700 - 5,000mm[ 418 ]. It can tolerate a 3 - 6 month dry period[ 303 ]. Prefers a position in full sun[ 418 ]. Grows well on a wide range of soil types but prefers light textured, slightly acidic soils[ 303 ]. It can tolerate infertile and compacted or poorly aerated soils but does not tolerate waterlogged and alkaline soils[ 303 ]. Plants will die of oxygen starvation within two weeks if the soil is waterlogged[ 303 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5[ 418 ]. The tree is drought hardy, it fixes nitrogen and regenerates rapidly. It is so hardy and reproduces so easily that it may become a weed of sorts and may be difficult to keep in check[ 418 ]. Seedlings grow very quickly, they can be 2.5 - 3.5 metres tall within 6 months and 3 - 5 metres within the first year[ 418 ]. Flowering may start in the first year, but good fruit set does not start until the second[ 303 ]. Fruits ripen 3 months after anthesis[ 303 ]. The plants will often flower all year round[ 320 ]. When grown for fuel, wood yields have been reported in the order of 15 - 40 tonnes per hectare just one year after planting, with annual coppice harvests continuing for 10 - 20 years[ 303 , 418 ]. Annual wood production potential is 5 - 65 m3/ha[ 418 ]. The rootstock is very vigorous and will resprout readily when coppiced[ 303 ]. Yields are extremely good - just 6 months after being cut at 50cm from the ground new growth 3 metre high has been formed[ 303 ]. Returns from charcoal production are higher than fuel wood because the wood is a quick burner[ 303 ]. The plant can produce 14 tonnes per hectare of charcoal annually[ 303 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[ 200 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Alley crop  Integrates annual crops with rows of perennials.
  • Agroforestry Services: Contour hedgerow  Alley cropping systems on the contour of slopes.
  • Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Plants providing crop shade especially trees.
  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Agroforestry Services: Windbreak  Linear plantings of trees and shrubs designed to enhance crop production, protect people and livestock and benefit soil and water conservation.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Fodder: Insect  Plants grown for useful fodder insects.
  • Industrial Crop: Biomass  Three broad categories: bamboos, resprouting woody plants, and giant grasses. uses include: protein, materials (paper, building materials, fibers, biochar etc.), chemicals (biobased chemicals), energy - biofuels
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - the seed has a hard coat and requires pre-treatment by scarification. This can be carried out by carefully abrading some of the seed coat (being careful not to damage the embryo) to allow the ingress of water. A simpler method is to immerse the seed in a small amount of almost boiling water (which cools down quickly enough so that it does not kill the seed) and then soak it for 12 - 24 hours in warm water before sowing. Seed germination occurs after 4 days and continues for 21 days with most seed germinating between 10 - 25 days from sowing[ 303 ]. Seedlings grow away very quickly and can be 2.5 metres or more tall within 6 months[ 418 ]. Seed viability can be maintained for several years in hermetic storage at 3°c with 6-10% moisture content[ 303 ]. The plant can also be propagated from stem cuttings[ 303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Other names include Powderpuff and Kaliandra.

Coming Soon

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

May be weedy

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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