Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

Angel-hair Calliandra, CALLIANDRA cf. CAPILLATA

from the September 19, 2010 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO

At forest edges along roads a small, acacia-like tree is flowering in the interesting manner shown above.

Of course the droopy white things are stamens, and even fairly early in the morning when you might expect them to be more perky they dangle like that. I had to see numerous trees at different times of the day to convince myself that this is the flowers' normal condition. A close-up showing filaments flowing en masse from tiny, green corollas crammed into a head is below:

Angel-hair Calliandra, CALLIANDRA cf. CAPILLATA, close-up of flowers

The tree's bipinnate leaves are shown below:

Angel-hair Calliandra, CALLIANDRA cf. CAPILLATA, leaves

In much of Mexico this little tree is known as "Cabello de Ángel," which means "Angel Hair." It's a member of the Bean Family genus Calliandra, probably CALLIANDRA CAPILLATA, distributed across lowland southern Mexico into Guatemala.

That genus name, Calliandra, nicely describes the various species it includes, for the "calli" is from ancient Greek meaning "beautiful," while "andra" refers to the flowers' stamens -- "beautiful stamens." You might remember the pretty Calliandra we met in Chiapas in 2007 with many red, stiff, slender stamens. For comparison you can see that one at http://www.backyardnature.net/chiapas/calliandr.htm.