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Zone
Zones vary by species.
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate
Toxicity
Seeds are poisonous if ingested.

Erythrina

Coral Tree
Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Deciduous, Evergreen, Trees

Many species; known and used chiefly in frost-free parts of Arizona, Florida, Southern California, and Hawaii. Valued for brilliant flowers in colors ranging from greenish white through yellow to light or vivid shades of orange and red. The flat, beanlike pods following bloom contain poisonous seeds. Leaves are divided into three leaflets. These are typically thorny plants with strong structural value, both in and out of leaf. To eliminate too rapid, succulent growth and limb breakage in larger species, give little or no irrigation during dry weather and prune after flowering.

Erythrina crista-galli (photo courtesy of Laura Dunkin-Hubby)
Erythrina crista-galli (photo courtesy of Laura Dunkin-Hubby)

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Erythrina crista-galli

Shrub or tree grows to 15–20 ft. tall and as wide in nearly frostless areas; perennial to half that size in colder part of the range. Native to South America. Many-stemmed, rough-barked plant, with 6-in. leaves divided into 2–3-in.-long leaflets. First flowers form after leaves unfurl in spring, when each branch tip flaunts a big, loose, spikelike cluster of velvety, birdlike blossoms in warm pink to wine-red (color varies with the plant). Depending on the environment, there may be as many as three distinct flowering periods, spring through autumn. Cut back old flower stems after each wave of bloom.

Erythrina falcata

Native to Brazil and Peru. This nearly evergreen tree grows to 30–40 ft. high. Must be in the ground several years before it flowers (may take 10 to 12 years). Dark red (occasionally orange-red), sickle-shaped flowers in hanging, spike-like clusters at branch ends in winter, early spring. Some leaves drop at bloom time.

Erythrina humeana
Erythrina humeana

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Erythrina humeana

Native to South Africa. May grow to 30 ft. tall, but begins blooming when only 3 ft. high. Flowers continually from late summer to late autumn, carrying bright orange-red blossoms in long-stalked clusters at branch ends well above the leaves (unlike many other types). Normally deciduous, but sometimes almost evergreen.

Erythrina sandwicensis

Hawaiian native grows to 20–45 ft. high and as wide. Masses of white to chartreuse, coral, orange, red, or bicolored flowers bloom in late summer to winter, preceding the flush of new foliage. Extremely drought-tolerant; good selection for xeriscape gardens.

Erythrina x bidwillii

The deciduous shrub grows to 8 ft. tall and as wide; sometimes treelike to 20 ft. or taller. Spectacular spring-to-winter display of 2-ft.-long clusters of pure red flowers on long, willowy stalks; main show is in summer. Cut back flowering wood after blossoms fade. Very thorny; plant away from paths and use long-handled pruners when trimming.

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