Fabaceae – Brownea – Brownea ariza, coccinea subsp. capitella


Subfamily Caesalpinioideae

Caesalpinioideae includes approximately 150 genera of trees, shrubs, herbs, and climbers. Leaves are usually pinnately compound, sometimes twice pinnate (bipinnate). Flowers are bilaterally symmetrical sometimes appearing almost radially symmetrical. One petal is more or less defferentiated into a lip or standard.


Brownea includes approximately 12 species of trees from northern South America to Costa Rica and the West Indies. Most grow in tropical forest understory, some at moderate elevation. Leaves are pinnate. New leaves are softly pendent and pinkish, stiffening into horizontal position with age, a characteristic referred to as “pouring out” Twigs are cross – shaped or angular in cross section. Species includes here are sensitive to termperatures below 450 F but should recover if not frozen. They prefer neutral to acid soil pH and regular moisture. Flowers are in compact heads, stamens long and exserted. The 2 stunning species shown here are evocative of flamenco skirts and setting suns. The inflorescences are stalkless and grow directly from the branches. These are understory plants which grow in subdued light.  In cultivation they are not known to set seed. They are difficult if not impossible to transplant. Browneas are attractive to nectar – feeding birds.

Mountain rose ariza, palo de cruz

Synonyms: B.princeps, B.rose -demonte. Fringes of Amazon basin in Colobia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru. Evergreen tree to 50 ft, zones 10-11. Blooms primarily late winter, spring, or intermittently. Regular moisture and humidity. Fertile, deep, well drained soil. acid pH. part sun to bright filtered light. Flowers: tubular, petals red, bracts greenish, stamens long exserted, in a pendent, skirtlike inflorescence, cauliflorous. Leaves: pinnate, to 18 in. long, leaflets 10-18, elliptic, pink and pendent when young. Flowers grow from the underside of spereading branches that arch to the ground. Pruning lower branches and growing in an elevated location will help display the flowers to better advantage.

Brownea coccinea subsp.capitella

Rose of venezuela, flor de rosa

Synonym: B.capitella, Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana, Trinidad, tobago. Evergreen shrub or small tree to 15 ft, zones 10-11. Blooms primarily late winter, spring, intermittently in warm months. Regular moisture and humidity. Fertile, well drained soil, acid pH. Part sun, bright filtered light. Flowers: petals scarlet, stamens very long – exserted, red orange, filaments fused at base like a comb, bracts pink, visible in half opened inflorescence, in globular heads to 10 in. diameter, cauliflorous. Leaves: pinnate , to 18 in.long, leaflets 10-18, dlliptic. The subspecies name refers to the globular floral heads.

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