|Erythrina flabelliformis is locally best described as a semi-succulent shrub, usually reaching no more than 4 or 5 feet in height. However, the range of this species extends throughout Sonora and all the way to the southern tip of Baja and where it does not freeze, it can grow to the height of 25 feet or more with a three foot diameter base! It's beautiful tubular, red flowers occur at the beginning of the warm season, just at the plants start to leaf out.|
|Here in southern Arizona, the plants naturally freeze back periodically (every year in some places), but since most of the biomass is in the large, underground storage roots, it can readily re-grow the following year. But since it flowers on growth put on the previous season, in most instances, at least some of the stems do not freeze, so that flowering can take place.|
|Without this ability, coral bean would
probably not have been able to adapt to our climate, which here in Tucson
usually includes a dozen or so freezes a year.
The stems on these plants are normally swollen to some degree, and minimally spiny, and the three parted leaves are quite nice. Other species of this genus are used as street trees in warmer places around the world.
E. flabelliformis can be grown in a pot for an indefinite period of time and would do best if protected from freezing and excess winter rains as they are dormant during the cold season.
|Bright light to full sun will encourage good growth and hopefully, flowering. The brilliant red seeds (thus the name 'coral bean') are toxic if eaten, but will not set at all with only one plant in flower. The genus 'Erythrina' refers to the red flowers and the species name 'flabelliformis' means fan-like, referring to the shape of the individual leaflets.|