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spiny holdback

Habit Shrubs or trees 2–8 m, armed, bark and branches with dispersed, curvate prickles.

stipules not seen;

petiole 20–30 mm;

rachis 4.5–20(–25) cm;

blades oblong to elliptic, 10–40(–45) ×15–20 mm, surfaces glandular-dotted abaxially.




jointed, (2.5–)5–10 mm.


calyx lobes red when in bud or greenish yellow, (3–)6(–7) mm;

corolla banner with central scarlet blotch, (5.1–)6–7(–8.5) mm;

filaments exserted, pale yellow, 6.8–7 mm, pubescent;

anthers yellow, 1 ×0.5 mm;

ovary pubescent;

style 4.5–6.3 mm.


(6–)7–10 × (1–)1.5–2.5(–3) cm.



Tara spinosa

Phenology Flowering Oct–Nov.
Habitat Riparian areas, bluffs, sage scrub, road and railroad rights-of-way.
Elevation 0–400[–2000] m. (0–1300[–6600] ft.)
from FNA
CA; South America (n Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela) [Introduced in North America; introduced also in ne Africa]

Tara spinosa is cultivated as an ornamental and has escaped locally in southern California as far north as Santa Barbara County.

Tara vesicaria is sometimes cultivated in southern Florida and has been documented as an escape near planted individuals. It differs from T. spinosa by leaflets that are in 1–3 pairs and have rounded to emarginate apices and oblique bases.

Coulteria tinctoria Kunth is an illegitimate and superfluous name that pertains here.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 11.
Parent taxa Fabaceae > subfam. Caesalpinioideae (excluding Mimosoid clade) > Tara
Synonyms Poinciana spinosa, Caesalpinia pectinata, C. spinosa, C. tara, T. tinctoria
Name authority (Molina) Britton & Rose in N. L. Britton et al.: N. Amer. Fl. 23: 320. (1930)
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