Caesalpinia gilliesii. YELLOW BIRD OF PARADISE. Caribbean


A young tree planted in late 2003 about 1/2 inch in diameter and 5 feet tall, is centrally situated in the small lawn on the north side of the Bookstore. Another on the west side of Crothers Hall died in 2005. They are the same age, although the Crothers tree was planted several years before.

June 2008, the Booktore yellow bird of paradise has been replaced by the small Meryta sinclairii originally set out in front of the Green Library's Bing (West) Wing.

Illustrations (links open new windows): gallery


The Pea family is among the largest flowering plant families with about 18,000 species in 630 genera worldwide. Caesalpina is the type genus for the Fabaceae subfamily Caesalpinioideae, following Cronquist (1981). This subfamily is intermediate in flower morphology between the other two higher-level classifications Mimosoideae and Faboideae (or Papilionoideae). The latter and largest group includes plants with papilionaceous, "butterfly-like", corollas (with standard, wings, and keel)—as the common garden pea.

All subfamilies are well represented on campus for closer study. Caesalpinioideae and Mimosoideae include mainly tropical trees with pinnately or bipinnately compound, alternate leaves. Mimosoideae flowers are regular (radially symmetrical), the corolla with equal petals often fused into a tube. Campus representatives include Acacia, Albizia, and Gymnocladus. Caesalpinioideae flowers are usually more or less zygomorphic (divisible into equal halves in one plane only). As with Caesalpina spp., the petals are distinct, the uppermost often smaller than the laterals. Other campus members of the subfamily include Bauhinia, Cassia, Cercis, Gleditsia, and Parkinsonia. It would be instructive to work out the higher classification of the many other campus peas (genera listed in the family index) from field observation throughout the year.

— further reading: Zomlefer (1994) Guide to Flowering Plant Families.

Name derivation, genus | species after Andreas Caesalpini (1519-1603), Italian botanist | after John Gillies (1747-1836)

Related material:

Botanical name index | Common name index | Family home