Yesterday’s odd photo was a bit abstract and looked more like an enlargement of brain neurons than a plant but it was, in fact, Calliandra (probably C. haematocephala). Calliandras are not plants for northern hemisphere gardens and they are tender shrubs from South America with red or white flowers that are frequently planted as ornamentals in frost-free subtropical and tropical areas.
The weird flowers are, perhaps, a clue that this is related to the fluffy flowers of mimosa and it is in whatever family that is now in! That is now Fabaceae subfamily Mimosoideae – Fabaceae is what Leguminosae is now!
The characteristic of this subfamily is that the usual ‘pea’ flowers of the family are changed into clusters of flowers with insignificant petals and large, showy stamens, very reminiscent of callistemon (bottle brush) though this is in a very different family (Myrtaceae).
The name Calliandra means beautiful ‘male’ or ‘stamens’ (as callistemon means literally ‘beautiful stamens’) and haematocephala means ‘blood red head’.
This is an evergreen shrub that can reach about 4m high and across but it can be kept smaller and is often grown in pots. It flowers in spring and summer and the clusters of flowers look rather like raspberries when in bud, each flower erupting into a bright red plume of stamens.