Desert Mountain Times
Desert Mountain Times - People, Plants and Places of Desert Southwest

Mexican Bird of Paradise and a morphing start-up

Yeah, that’s me, yours truly, at my new potting bench. Putting one of these wild Mexican Bird of Paradise seedlings that come up in my yard each year into a pot to be sold later. New entrepreneur project arose to celebrate Pres. Trump’s election, it is. Now I just need to make sure I’ve got the exact identity of the plants! And how to tell apart when young? Testimony of any self-professed plant expert — such as a genuine Trump supporter — would be taken as de facto expert proof, of course! Just reply to this post at the bottom, anyone with an idea. (DMT photo)


By Dan Bodine



Bush, on left; tree, on right. Both Mexican Birds of Paradise! Can offsprings from a plant take on distinctive different characteristics than its parent — such as what foolish human children have attempted “to get away” with for thousands of years? (Image by Mauro Guanandi)

Prez Trump and his throw-it-to-the-wilds attitude may be setting the standard now for new start-up’s, and you can bet there are millions of us other wanna-be entrepreneurs out there “in the wings,” too — still scratching for cash; awaiting our own “rendezvous with destiny”!

Is this one of those magical moments in history that will lift a battered nation up by its bootstraps?

How about selling plants out of your home’s driveway then, i.e.? Or, hell, selling them and their seeds both thru the mail?

Our blond-headed leader’s open enthusiasm for self-reliance — on re-engineering your thinking on ways of making a buck — has inspired me, folks!

Thus Ol’ Bo here (yours truly, in top photo) spent the winter building this fine potting bench. It’s under the Casa Verde arbor next to our tiny, backyard greenhouse.

Hell, selling plants out of your driveway could lead to a person becoming the world’s next plant billionaire, no?

‘Ol Rollin’ Green,

I’ll be seen!

But as usual in these start-up’s, a little tiny hiccup has developed for me, though.

With Spring already sprang, I’m a bit perplexed already over what’s happening exactly with my Mexican Bird of Paradise plants themselves.

They’re first on my list, of course, for future money plants! These things are show stoppers! But I feel I need to know something more, ‘ya know.

Not only did I miss sex education in college botany, but when I was coming up through the elementary schools, the school districts didn’t offer any of it in any of the classes for students either! Stunted, some of us are?

Well, being the type of person who gets stuck often on some little-bitty thing or another like this — e.g., proper name, of all things — maybe this is a bad omen for my new career, huh?

I mean, things flood your mind. For instance, how many exes can I count who blamed my failure in life on being too much of a damn perfectionist, huh? And what dat get me?

Hijole! Who let Jethro into this? Throw that scab out!

This new problem, really, is one of these two plants blooms solid yellow — the parent plant, who also is taller than all the kids who came up from its seeds!

And, too, the kids bloom yellow and red!

What got in there to do that? How?

Hey — LOL folks! — maybe this is like describing our beloved President Trump waffling back and forth now — on such things as bombing Muslim pilgrimages all the way to Holy Toledo, i.e.? We’ve inherited a waffling gene from our plants!

(But of course I’ll be able to prove my issue in court, the direct ancestry of any plants I sell, count on it!)

Now this distinction wasn’t particularly disturbing to me, at first.

Life’s blessed me with numerous up’s and down’s, yes. I’ve learned it makes one more tolerant of differences.

But on a product? Whoa! A little internet research showed these family plants of mine are actually two different plants! A bush and a tree.

Out of one?

I started all these other birds of paradise, yes, using arisen seeds off the big one I set out in El Paso! Look at these photos below:

This is Judge McKinsey, our parent Mexican Bird of Paradise tree — whose first crop of seeds I rooted one winter to start our other plants.

Now I lugged this “tree” (10-12 ft. high now) as a potted sapling — a true pup off the plant in Presidio, it was — when we came here in 2010. A straight yellow!

And now its pups — the ones Prez Trump’s inspired me to go forth in the world and make a killin’ off of — — are the same yellow blooms, but with long red stamens coming out of them!

So gorgeous…one of my home-grown terrorists back in Presidio would easily convert and become our country’s next Baptist fundamentalist preacher, folks!

See my identity dilemma here? The papa/mama plant (of the above) — once just a sapling itself I dug up from beneath my Mexican Bird-of-Paradise tree in Presidio, and potted — just before we moved to El Paso — was one of these straight characters.

Its tall, papa/mama tree (at the old garden in Presidio) I’d bought years earlier at a nursery in El Paso. Don’t tell me I don’t know that plant! It was a tree! Not the variegated bush!

So what’s going on?

Have learned little biology or botany, on my Life’s long road down south, true. No interest in either one ever particularly piqued my curiosity. In the dark, I am.

So I’m thinking by posting these photos, maybe a reader knows more on this particular desert beauty than I do.

And wouldn’t mind sharing his knowledge some, huh?

What about it?

— Any of you out there that knowledgeable?

— And any of you other readers — who’re interested in reserving one of these delights — better order early, too, ‘fore they’re all gone!

Here yee! Here yee!

Unless, of course, some of my fine neighbors talk me into giving ’em away! Dousing the entrepreneur start-up!

Which happens on past occasions, as I start building up inventory in something.

Noemi comes out the back door — to show me last month’s water bill.


Who did dat?


— 30 —


  • Desert Dweller | David C. says:

    It looks like you have 2 or 3 species.

    The 2nd photo is a yellow and reddish Mexican Bird of Paradise, unless the red is Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Further east in TX and the south, the latter is called “Pride of Barbados”, a Caribbean Basin native. The one yellow you brought from Presidio looks like Caesalpinia mexicana.

    Now the last photo of the yellow one w/ red stamens in each flower, but more treelike, is Caesalpinia gilliesii or Desert Bird of Paradise…native to Argentina, in a desert similar to our Chihuahuan Desert.

    Always lots of humor! A guy west of us in SE Arizona has a radio show where he is called “Petey Mesquitey”, and he used to give a talk called “How I got rich growing native plants.”

    May 14, 2017 at 7:19 pm
    • Dan Bodine says:

      Thanks, David!

      It’s not a pulcherrima, I don’t think! Bought one of those “Barbados” (small) several years ago after drooling so much over a neighbor’s across the street. Only thing, unlike him, I squeezed mine into a crowded backyard garden with way insufficient light for it! Probably hasn’t grown 6 in. in those 3-4 years. But with the others, I’d come across a link stating the red-and-yellow’s are classified “bushes,” while the taller yellow is a “tree.” Sometimes I can get stuck on figuring out how some little thing like that could happen and I don’t get anything done for 2-3 days. Hee, hee! Talk about stir crazy! Hope everything’s OK with you!

      May 14, 2017 at 10:53 pm
      • Desert Dweller | David C. says:

        Then you have just 2 species, I can’t tell, plus I’m not a Caesalpinia expert…you can get rich growing Caesalpinia! But avoid C. gilliesii unless in the middle of town, as it reseeds everywhere and displaces native plants.

        May 15, 2017 at 9:17 pm

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