CORAL TREE

FAMILY: Papilionaceae | GENUS: ERYTHRINA

TYPE
  • Perennials
  • Evergreen
  • Shrubs
  • Trees
  • Deciduous
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
WATER
  • Moderate Water
PLANTING ZONES
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 10
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 11
SPECIAL FEATURES
  • Poisonous/Toxic

Plant Details

These thorny trees and shrubs are prized for their brilliant flowers, in colors ranging from pink through red, orange, and yellow that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The flat, beanlike pods that follow contain poisonous seeds. Leaves have three leaflets and usually drop in fall or winter. E.xbidwillii, Erythrina crista-galli, and Erythrina herbacea are hardy outside the Tropical South. Not browsed by deer.

tambookie thorn

erythrina acanthocarpa

  • Deciduous shrub.
  • Native to South Africa.
  • To 3 feet tall (rarely 6 feet.); as wide as tall.
  • Roundish blue-green leaets to 1 inches long.
  • Spring ower spikes are 7 inches long, 6 inches wide, with scarlet, yellow-tipped owers.
  • Thorny plant grows from large, thick tuberlike root.
  • Don't plant it near pavement, which can be lifted by root.

mexican coral tree

erythrina americana

  • Deciduous tree.
  • Native to Mexico; used as street tree in Mexico City.
  • Grows to 25 feet tall and wide.
  • Resembles Erythrina coralloides in both habit and owers.
  • Leaves are gray-green.

naked coral tree

erythrina x

  • bidwillii.
  • Deciduous shrub.
  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • To 8 feet., sometimes treelike to 20 feet or more, wide spreading.
  • Hybrid of Erythrina crista-galli and E.herbacea.
  • Leaves to 8 inches long.
  • Pure red, 2 feet-long flower clusters on long, willowy stalks from spring until winter; main show in summer, when display is spectacular.
  • Cut back owering wood when owers are spent.
  • Very thorny, so plant away from paths and prune with long-handled shears.

erythrina coralloides

  • Deciduous tree.
  • Native to Mexico.
  • To 30 feet high and as wide, but easily contained by pruning.
  • Fiery red blossoms like fat candles or pinecones bloom at the tips of naked, twisted, black-thorned branches in spring.
  • At end of owering season, 8- to 10 inches leaves develop; these give shade in summer, then turn yellow in late fall before dropping.
  • Bizarre branch structure when tree is out of leaf is almost as valuable as spring ower display.
  • Sometimes sold as E.poianthes.

cry-baby tree, cockspur coral tree

erythrina crista-galli

  • Deciduous shrub or small tree 1520 feet high and wide in nearly frostless areas; perennial to 4ft.
  • in colder areas.
  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • From eastern South America.
  • Leathery leaves 1 feet long.
  • First owers form after leaves come in springat each branch tip is a big, loose, spikelike cluster of velvety, birdlike blossoms in warm pink to wine-red (plants vary).
  • Teardrops of nectar that drip from flowers explain common name cry-baby tree.
  • There can be as many as three owering periods, spring through fall.
  • Cut back old ower stems and dead branch ends after each bloom.

brazilian coral tree

erythrina falcata

  • Nearly evergreen tree.
  • Native to Brazil and Peru.
  • Grows upright to 3040 feet high.
  • Must be in ground several years before it owers (may take 10 to 12 years).
  • Leaves similar to those of Erythrina crista-galli.
  • Rich deep red (occasionally orange-red), sickle-shaped owers in hanging, spikelike clusters at branch ends in late winter, early spring.
  • Some leaves fall at owering time.

coral bean, cherokee bean

erythrina herbacea

  • Perennial to 6 feet high in Middle and Lower South; deciduous shrub or small tree to 15 feet tall in Coastal and Tropical South.
  • Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11.
  • Grows taller than wide.
  • Bright red, 2 inches blooms appear in 8- to 12 inches spikes from spring until frost.
  • Red seeds that follow the flowers are attractive but extremely poisonous.

natal coral tree

erythrina humeana

  • Deciduous shrub or tree (sometimes almost evergreen).
  • Native to South Africa.
  • May reach 30 feet tall and wide but begins to bear bright orange-red owers when 3 feet high.
  • Blooms continuously from late summer to late fall, with owers in long-stalked clusters at branch ends well above foliage (unlike many other types).
  • Dark green leaves.
  • Raja is shrubbier, has leaets with long, pointed tails.

variegated coral tree

erythrina variegata

  • Deciduous tree.
  • Native to Africa, Asia, Polynesia.
  • To 2030 feet tall or much taller, with spreading form.
  • Thick, prickly trunk and branches.
  • Rich green leaves have 3- to 8 inches leaets.
  • Profuse display of coral-red owers in late winter, early spring.
  • Forms are available with white flowers and variegated leaves.

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