Caesalpinia pulcherrima (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Swartz

Protologue: Observ. bot.: 66 (1791).


  • Poinciana pulcherrima L. (1753).

Vernacular names

  • Peacock flower (En)
  • Indonesia: bunga merak, kembang merak, kembang patra
  • Philippines: bulaklak ng paraiso (Tagalog), caballero (Tagalog, Sp)
  • Cambodia: dok fang, kan gok meas, fang ham
  • Thailand: khwaang yoi (eastern), som pho (northern), haang nokyuung thai (central)
  • Vietnam: diệp ta, diệp cúng, kim phượng.


C. pulcherrima originates in tropical America, and is now found throughout the tropics. Cultivated throughout South-East Asia and naturalized in some regions.


In general a decoction or infusion of roots, bark, leaves or flowers is used as a purgative and emmenagogue. According to the dosage it may be used as a mouthwash for teeth or gums, a remedy for colds and fevers, or even as a strong abortifacient. In Papua New Guinea, the roots are used as an abortifacient, whereas the leaves are taken to relieve constipation. In Vietnam, the roots are used as an emmenagogue in folk medicine. C. pulcherrima is a popular ornamental throughout the tropics.


  • A shrub or small tree up to 5 m tall, branches unarmed or with a few straight prickles.
  • Leaves paripinnate, rachis 10-40 cm long, with 5-9 pairs of pinnae, stipules subulate, minute, caducous, leaflets opposite, 6-12 pairs per pinna, base unequal, rounded, apex rounded to retuse.
  • Raceme or panicle axillary and terminal, 20-50 cm long.
  • Flowers bisexual, sepals 10-15 mm × 5-7 mm, petals 10-25 mm × 6-8 mm, stamens very far exserted, ovary with 8-12 ovules.
  • Pod 6-12 cm × 1.5-2 cm, 8-10-seeded.
  • Seed slightly rectangular, brown or black.

C. pulcherrima is locally naturalized in Malesia.

Selected sources

  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240, Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.

241, 256, 407

  • Holdsworth, D.K., 1977. Medicinal plants of Papua New Guinea. Technical Paper No 175. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia. 123 pp., 585, 739, 778, 810, 818, 1038, 1069.


B. Ibnu Utomo