The tree's common name creates confusion because it is not a miniature form of the royal poinciana (delonix regia) tree, although the dwarf poinciana does have a resemblance to its larger namesake. Dwarf poinciana is a small tree (to 12 feet) or shrub. The crown is generally moderately dense, vase-shaped, but irregular. It has drooping branches, susceptible to breakage. Leaves are green, bipinnate, mostly opposite, oblong or oval, 8-16 inches long overall; leaflets are less than 2 inches long. The trunk, branches and petioles have sharp spines. Flowers are very showy and borne on a lengthy stalk up to 8 inches long projecting above the leaves; blooms are bowl-shaped, 2-3 inches across, the petals yellow, orange or red with extended red stamens. Fruits are flat, brown pods, 3-4 inches long, splitting open noisily when ripe to expose small brown seeds. Seeds are used for propagation. This plant is easy to grow in well-drained alkaline to acid soils. The tree benefits from trimming. In landscaping, dwarf poinciana is ideal for informal plantings in gardens or parks, and is a colorful accent along a shrub border. The plant's natural growth form is low-branching and spreading so it can be trained as a shrub.