The genus comprises herbaceous perennial plants, shrubs, and rarely small trees, growing 0.5–6 m tall, with bipinnate leaves. The flowers are produced in cylindrical or globose inflorescences and have numerous long slender stamens which give rise to the common names powder-puff, powder puff plant, and fairy duster. These plants flower all year round, but the best blooming is in spring and summer. They can be easily pruned.
Calliandra are often fed on by caterpillars, such as the larvae of statira sulphur (Aphrissa statira).It is available in many vibrant colours such as pink, white, etc.