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Erythrina bidwillii

Erythrina bidwillii
coral bean
Erythrina bidwillii

Common name coral bean
Family fabaceae
Life cycle shrub (Z9-11)
Flowers red (late spring-summer)
Size 8'
Light sun
Cultural notes drought tolerant
From seed Nick seed, germinate at room temperature
detailed seed-starting info below

Some taxonomical contradictions here: my taxonomy sources consider this a species, and the nursery where we purchased our specimen sells it as a native plant – yet several other online sources describe how this is a hybrid between E. crista-galli and E. herbacea, concocted in Australia (so hardly native to Texas). In any case, it produces eye-popping red pea flowers once it gets going in summer. The timing of flowering depends on how much the plant was set back by winter cold – in its first full year in our garden, which featured a harsh freeze in January, blooming didn't start till August, but in the years that followed, with milder winters, it bloomed by the middle of spring. Nasty thorns on this one, so we grow it well away from the front of the border. By the end of its second year in our garden, it grew to about 8 foot – taller than the 6-foot height I'd found in a reference for this species/variety – and even higher in the following year. Then came the megafreeze of 2021, which took out all top growth, and this time it took much longer for growth to return – but eventually, well into spring, it did. By that time, the plant had developed a trunk befitting a small tree. Cutting down the dead growth, I was surprised at how easily the loppers passed through the wood, and how light the dead woody remains were. The wood quality clearly wasn't like that of a tree!

coral bean
Erythrina bidwillii
Seedpods developing in mid-October
coral bean
New growth from base after 2018 freeze, mid-March
Erythrina bidwillii
New growth after 2021 freeze, late April
coral bean
Newly planted nursery specimen (October 2017)
Erythrina bidwillii
Three years later (July 2020), grown into a small tree

In our garden, this plant grows in the following areas: back fence border, left fence nursery area

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Seed-starting details for this plant

  1. Seed from '20 garden. File-nicked. Baggy 70F (100%G, 15-24d)

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Last modified: May 02, 2021
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