Erythrina herbacea Photo Claire Sunquist ©
Coral Bean, also known as Cherokee bean or cardinal Spear is found throughout Florida and the southeastern US. In northern Florida the Coral bean dies back to the root after a freeze, but in frost-free south Florida this drought tolerant, spiny shrub has woody stems and can grow to 3 meters (15ft) tall.
In February and March, before the plant is fully leafed out, scarlet flowers appear—the long tubular flowers attract hummingbirds, swallowtail butterflies, and other insects. Later the plant produces bean pods that hold 2 to 8 bright red beans.
Coral bean can be propagated by cuttings, or grown from seed—however, be careful if you use this attractive perennial as a garden plant. The shiny red seeds are very tempting for small children to pick up and play with and they are highly toxic.
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