Erythrina herbacea

  • Good under-story plant; blooms on long stalks;sharp spines
  • Attracts hummingbirds but seeds are poisonous and not eaten by wildlife
  • Remove tall bloom shoots after flowering
  • Will freeze back so not suited for rain gardens
  • Cut back after freeze and before spring growth

Coralbean is a low, glossy-leaved, thorny shrub to 6 ft. with many herbaceous, annual stems arising from the woody lower stem and perennial root. The long-petioled, leaflets are distinctively arrowhead-shaped. Leaves are alternate, scattered along the stem, 3 leaflets forming the leaf, which is often prickly beneath. The leaves are 3-5 inches long and 3 1/2-4 inches wide. Leaves fall in winter and before they reappear in spring, upright spikes of showy, tubular flowers adorn the bare branches.

The scarlet-red flowers, 12 inches long in spike-like clusters, on the upper portion of the stem. There are 5 united sepals and 5 petals 1 1/2-2 inches long, with the upper petal wrapped around the other 4. These are followed by a persisent legume pod containing several bright red beans. The pod is blackish, constricted between the seeds, and up to 8 1/2 inches long. The seeds are firmly attached to the pod by a sturdy 1/8-inch-long thread and will remain in place for months.

Common Names:  Mamou Bean, Coral Bean, Cherokee Bean, Redcardinal, Cardinal Spear

They’re very pretty—and very poisonous, so be sure to keep them away from kids and pets.