Spikes of Scarlet Flowers

Look for the striking scarlet spikes of coralbean (Erythrina herbacea) flowers rising up from saw palmettos (Serenoa repens) and other plants as you travel about in our car, as you walk in natural areas, and as you visit yards with native plants.

The name coralbean refers to the color its hard-coated seeds which are poisonous and are shown below growing in the midst of a strangler fig (Ficus aureum) in the yard of Marta & Mike Kendrick when the Chapter visited on 5-21-2015.

Its trunk already was quite stout and attractive …

This plant ranges into north Florida where it dies back to the ground during freezing temperatures giving rise to it species name herbacea, meaning herbaceous. Though it had been mowed to the ground on a mosquito control dike at the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge (which “simulated” a freeze), it still managed to flower substantially …

Corlbean grows to be a small tree where conditions are more tropical, so be prepared to prune if you want a shrub. As with many plants of tropical origin, the timing of flowering/fruiting can be quite variable. In our yard, the coralbeans that get “irrigated” by the neighbor’s sprinter system began to flower in December, and a plant in a sandy and shady spot has yet to flower. The photo from the Kendricks’ yard shows fruiting in May, but …

Coralbean was full of fruit in the yard of Tom Brown when the Chapter visited on 8-16-18 …

… and on 8-15-19 in the yard of Terry Greene …

Check out this coralbean in the all-native landscape at Archbold Biological Station with lots of flowers on 3-22-15, even though it had been recently planted …

The tubular scarlet flowers attract hummingbirds and long-tongued butterflies. Consider giving coralbean a spot in your yard and be sure to enjoy seeing its showy flowers as you travel about!

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