Calliandra: Family, subfamily, genus, species

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Wikipedia says there are 140 species native of tropical and subtropical areas of the Americas.

Family is Fabaceae, subfamily Mimosoideae.

Calliandra is all over Guatemala

We have found Calliandra

  • In flat areas of El Peten
  • Near Tecpan (we believe this is Calliandra grandiflora)
  • Km 20 through 28, CA9, Guatemala
  • Highway between Mataquescuintla (driving from Jutiapa and Jalapa)
  • In gardens of many hotels.
  • Village of Cahabon, Alta Verapaz

There are Calliandra plants growing in a dozen other ecosystems but we do not always have time to stop.

Calliandra Chisec , Peten

Photography of Calliandra Chisec, Towards to Petén.

Calliandra is a spice

Calliandra anomala, red power puff, is a plant with powerful chemicals (though not as bad as palo de pito, Erythrina species). I will go out on a limb and estimate this species has counterparts in Guatemala with similar effects.

Calliandra anomala is listed as a known spice for flavoring cacao.

Calliandra Pension Monja Blanca

Photography of Calliandra, Pension Monja Blanca, Cobán.

Calliandra is a medicinal plant

While we were photographing a Calliandra species in Cahabon, Alta Verapz, Guatemala a man from the local village said he put parts of the plant under the pillows of his children when they were not sleeping properly.

Many people in Guatemala do the same with parts of flor de pito, Erythrina species, though Pito is much more common, and has more dangerous chemicals in different parts of the plant.

Calliandra Aldea las Minas, Santa Rosa

Photography of Calliandra, Aldea Las Minas, Santa Rosa.

Bibliography of Suggested Reading on Calliandra species

We are preparing a bibliography on each species which we have photographed. This will be on our bibliography web site,



Posted mid-July 2015
after we photographed another grove of Calliandra near Aldea Pachali, about 40 minutes drive from Tecpan Guatemala.

PNYNN and Livingston reports

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