Calliandra (Calliandra haematocephala) is popular and attractive garden plant grown for it's beautiful powder puff flowers BUT did you know that Calliandra is so much more than it's good looks?
- a fast growing legume
- a fabulous chop and drop mulch
- an excellent food forest shade plant
- a useful hedge or screen plant - coppices well
- a pioneer plant in a permaculture food forest - helping to get the systems started
- excellent fuelwood for small fires
- used for intercrop hedgerows in agroforesty systems
- valuable supplement forage for ruminant livestock
- an accessible source of leaf meal protein for laying hens - pods are also high protein
- useful in land rehabilitation
- an excellent erosion control plant
- a green manure
- a pollen source for honey production
- attractive to butterflies and birds too (flowers)
- a host for lac insect (Laccifer lacca) for shellac production
Calliandra is a hardy plant that grows well in warm-humid climates. It can withstand dry conditions, although may become semi-deciduous if the dry season is extensive. It grows 3-5 metres, but can be hedged.
It is easily propagated by stem cuttings or seeds. Once you have one plant, you can keep making more, and sharing them widely.
It was originally from the humid and sub-humid regions of Central America and Mexico.
There are many varieties of Calliandra. The main variety recommended for agroforestry is Calliandra calothyrsus but the values of the common garden plant, Calliandra haematocephala, are also very high.