Difference between bird of paradise plants

Difference Between Bird of Paradise Plants

Last Updated on July 21, 2023 by Paul Guzman

Recently many folks have been asking our staff and myself what is the difference the Between Bird of Paradise Plants are.  It gets a little confusing, especially for the novice gardener or landscaper.

  1. Red Bird of Paradise
  2. Yellow Bird of Paradise
  3. Mexican Bird of Paradise
  4. Bird of Paradise

So…without further ado here are those differences.

Red Bird of Paradise – Botanical name: Caesalpinia pulcherrima:

The Red Bird of Paradise in the southwest has a distinct bright red and yellow flower.  Depending on what part of the southwest you live in it could be considered a perennial.  Also Called “The Pride of Barbados”.  Sometimes mistakenly called the Mexican bird of paradise.

However, in colder regions or places where temperatures get below 20° degrees Fahrenheit, it is considered an annual.  From my experience, it is a low-care shrub.  However, it does produce seed pods in late summer so there is some maintenance during the late growing seasons.

It will bloom all late spring, summer, and into fall.

In the Las Cruces, NM area it can become a perennial providing you do the following.

How to take care of Your Red Bird of Paradise Plant

Water regularly during spring, summer, and fall seasons.  In winter trim the plant low to the ground.  Cover the root system with mulch to help keep the root system alive during the winter season.  More information on the Red Bird of Paradise is here.

Difference between Paradise plants
A good photo of the Red Bird of Paradise Plant

The Yellow Bird of Paradise Botanical name: Caesalpinia gilliesii:

Sometimes called the Desert bird of paradise. The flower is not as showy as the Red Bird Variety. But, the plant is much hardier and requires less water, and is a minimal maintenance plant.

They re-seed themselves and grow wild in and around the desert Southwest. Some folks call it the Mexican bird of paradise, but it is a “Desert bird of paradise” plant.

The Yellow Bird of Paradise is a perennial and will come back vigorously every year. More info here.

Yellow bird of paradise plant
A close-up view of the Yellow Bird of Paradise Flower and Leaves.

The Mexican Bird of Paradise Botanical name: Caesalpinia Mexicana:

Difference Between Bird of Paradise Plants
Yellow pride of barbados, or Caesalpinia Mexicana, member of the pea family under a lovely blue sky.

The Real Mexican Bird of Paradise

It is remarkably like the Red one, but the leaves are larger, and the flower is a bright yellow color. It is native to Mexico and will only bloom in spring.  Gardeners in the Southwest sometimes prune this plant to make it into a small tree.

Many Southwestern cities use this plant for landscaping roads and interstate highways. It is virtually maintenance-free and requires little watering.

Here is another photo via the Mountain States Website. More on this plant here.


The Bird of Paradise Botanical name:

Bird of Paradise
Strelitzia Nicole

The flower of the bird of paradise plant S. Reginae.  It will bloom about once every 4-7 years.

Bird of paradise plant flower
Image by Michael Gaida from Pixabay

This is considered a houseplant in places where outdoor freezing temperatures are common.

In the Southwest, it is placed indoors. However, if you live in an area where you do not get freezing temperatures you can plant them outdoors.

They can get up to twelve feet in height and about 4-5′ feet wide.   Great for those who have high room ceilings.

Difference Between Bird of Paradise Plants

You should now know the difference between these plants. You can also search using the botanical names of each plant.  The top results will corroborate this post.

Please add your comment in the box provided below.  We love to hear your thoughts on these plants.

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  1. Reply

    The last 2 pics are not the same plant. Strelitzia Nicole is the giant BOP, with a creamy white/blue flower, and looks sort of like a banana tree. The very last pic is S. reginae, a 4′ tall plant with bright orange/blue flowers.

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