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Products > Erythrina flabelliformis
Erythrina flabelliformis - Coral Bean
Image of Erythrina flabelliformis
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Fabaceae = Pea Family
Origin: Southwest (U.S.) (North America)
Flower Color: Red
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [Erythrina purpusii]
Height: 8-12 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Erythrina flabelliformis (Coral Bean) - A semi-succulent low growing deciduous shrubby tree that has swollen roots and stems that bear scattered small spines and attractive trifoliate leaves with rounded leaflets. In late winter to spring appear the open clusters of tubular red flowers at the same time the leaves begin to emerge and then in late summer appear 8- to 12-inch-long beans which split lengthwise to expose the brilliant red seeds, giving rise to the common name "Coral Bean".

Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil or in a container that can be protected from temperatures below 20F or overly wet winter conditions. This plant is often seen in succulent collections and can be grown in relatively small containers for an indefinite period of time.

Erythrina flabelliformis is native to the Sonoran desert of southern Arizona New Mexico south into Mexico. In much of its natural range this plant usually reaches no taller than 4 or 5 feet in height though in areas to the south this plant may get as tall as 25 feet as it does in southern Baja California. The name Erythrina is derived from the Greek word 'erythros' meaning "red" for the typical red flowers of the genus and the specific epithet "flabelliformis" is from the Latin words 'flabellum' meaning "fan" and 'formis' meaning "shaped" in reference to the shape of the leaflets.

In southern Arizona this plant will naturally freeze back but resprout from the roots, though will not flower that year on the new growth. In Mexico the seeds are sold in the marketplace as a bead called Colorines, which' while quite pretty, are quite toxic if eaten and in even a small amount can produce hallucinations, vomiting, convulsions, and even death; it is advisable that one only keep the beads around the neck and that they should not be put in the mouth. Our first plants grown and sold in 2013 were from seed collected in the Huachuca Mountains of southern Arizona while later plants were grown from seed provided to us by John Trager, the curator of the Desert Garden at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. This seed was collected in the Desert Garden was collected from one of the five specimens in that garden that were grown from various locations in the southwest and it is these plants that we have sold since 2022. 

This information about Erythrina flabelliformis displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.