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Erythrina herbacea (Coralbean)

Cardinal Spear, Coralbean, Cherokee Bean, Red Cardinal, Erythrina arborea

Erythrina herbacea, Cardinal Spear, Coralbean, Cherokee Bean, Red Cardinal, Erythrina arborea, Red Flowers
Erythrina herbacea, Cardinal Spear, Coralbean, Cherokee Bean, Red Cardinal, Erythrina arborea, Red Flowers

Thriving on neglect, Erythrina herbacea (Coralbean) is a multistemmed thorny deciduous shrub or small tree noted for its brilliant red tubular flowers borne in upright spikes, up to 2 ft. long (60 cm). Blooming in several waves between spring and fall, the showy blossoms resemble crescent moons and are particularly attractive to hummingbirds. They are followed by persistent hanging pods that burst open to reveal beautiful, bright red seeds, adding further interest long after flowering. Scattered along the stems, the alternatively arranged, trifoliate leaves feature long petioles and arrowhead-shaped leaflets. Dull green in color, they have prickles on the midribs and on the undersides. Coralbean is deciduous but retains its foliage late into the season. Evergreen in the tropics, this unusual tropical plant is killed to the ground in winter in places where freezing weather occurs. However, it will regrow in the spring. Coralbean is an excellent ornamental flowering shrub or tree, often used to give a woodland planting a naturalistic effect. It is also excellent as an accent or specimen plant.

  • Grows up to 6-12 ft. tall (180-360 cm) and 3-6 ft. wide (90-180 cm).
  • Easily grown in loamy or sandy, acidic to slightly alkaline, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. Water deeply but infrequently in summer. Fertilize once during the growing period. Highly drought tolerant and moderately salt tolerant.
  • Protect from frost and stop watering during dormancy (after the leaves drop).
  • Great as a specimen plant in Mediterranean gardens, informal gardens, and native plant gardens.
  • No serious pest or disease issues.
  • Prune regularly to control size and encourage new growth from the base.
  • Propagate from scarified seed, semi-hardwood cuttings and root division.
  • Seeds are poisonous to humans and children if eaten. In Mexico, the toxic seeds have been used to poison rats and fish.
  • Native to Mexico and the southern United States.

Requirements

Hardiness 8 - 11
Plant Type Shrubs, Trees
Plant Family Leguminosae
Common names Red Cardinal
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 6' - 12'
(180cm - 3.7m)
Spread 3' - 6'
(90cm - 180cm)
Spacing 60" - 72"
(150cm - 180cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Southeast, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Southwest, Texas
Tolerance Drought, Salt, Dry Soil
Attracts Hummingbirds
Garden Styles Mediterranean Garden, Informal and Cottage, Coastal Garden
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Recommended Companion Plants

Callicarpa americana (American Beautyberry)
Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina Jessamine)
Lonicera sempervirens (Trumpet Honeysuckle)
Chrysobalanus icaco (Coco Plum)
Hamamelis virginiana (Virginian Witch Hazel)
Ilex opaca (American Holly)
Rhapidophyllum hystrix (Needle Palm)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 8 - 11
Plant Type Shrubs, Trees
Plant Family Leguminosae
Common names Red Cardinal
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 6' - 12'
(180cm - 3.7m)
Spread 3' - 6'
(90cm - 180cm)
Spacing 60" - 72"
(150cm - 180cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Southeast, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Southwest, Texas
Tolerance Drought, Salt, Dry Soil
Attracts Hummingbirds
Garden Styles Mediterranean Garden, Informal and Cottage, Coastal Garden
How Many Plants
Do I Need?

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