Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Cry Baby, Cockspur, Fireman's Cap Tree, Brazillian Coral Tree
Erythrina crista-galli

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Erythrina (er-ith-RY-nuh) (Info)
Species: crista-galli (KRIS-tuh GAL-ee) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

30 members have or want this plant for trade.


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Seed is poisonous if ingested
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter
Blooms repeatedly


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium
By air layering

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 76 photos.
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15 positives
4 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive DavidboaZ On Mar 21, 2015, DavidboaZ from Zwolle
Netherlands wrote:

Growing this plant from seeds seems to be quite easy. I put my seeds into normal seeding soil and put the tray in the bathroom to let them germinate. Some go (very) fast, others germinate and grow a lot slower. The tree is very rare here in the Netherlands, so I'm happy with 7 seedlings. 2 of them are 18,5 inches now, so by the time they're established they an go outside. Did any of your plants survive a bit of frost?

Positive Traxs53 On Jul 14, 2014, Traxs53 from Sandia, TX wrote:

We have this plant in our yard at Sandia, TX. It is very beautiful in the spring when it blooms. It will loose it's leaves in the winter, here. but it comes back very quickly.

Positive annhelen On Dec 2, 2013, annhelen from Townsend, GA wrote:

I can't say enough wonderful things about this plant/tree. I started mine from seed from a very old specimen here in coastal GA. I have chickens and pets and have never seen any evidence of it being VERY poisonous. The prickles along the stems aren't bad if you are aware of them. Orchard orioles come in spring and sip the nectar from the bloom stamens. A gorgeous sight, and worth growing for. I was told old plantation sites often grew this tree (SC and GA). Lately, however, some little worms like bean rollers have infested my tree ate most of the leaves.

Positive tmccullo On Jun 15, 2013, tmccullo from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

We have had our tree for 6 years now here in NW Houston (9a). It is very bushy and about 6' tall. The tree has survived two very harsh winters where it was 23 degrees one year and 21 the next. It froze back to the ground and came back both times. We started covering it to protect it from frost and it has survived since then with very little damage. Each March it continually goes through cycles of producing beautiful red flowers and then producing seed pods until about December. We have seeds pods available for anyone that wants them.

Positive popper1 On May 20, 2012, popper1 from Lakeland, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Love this tree (and the genus!). Have the red flowered and white alba varietty. Crossed them this year, red was the pollen parent. Got 4 seeds, just planted. Curious what will happen.

Positive OsmanthusValley On Jun 17, 2010, OsmanthusValley from Belton, SC wrote:

I LOVE this plant. I'm in zone 7 but a colder microclimate down in a valley in the country. Over winters well for me. Like other postings in colder climate, it's a shrub. No pests or disease and the deer don't eat it. I've never been successful in propagating. This site says air layer and seeds. Has this worked for others in similar climate? I've never gotten any seeds from it. Are the seeds in the ball at the end of the flower?

Positive Naper1 On May 18, 2010, Naper1 from Spring, TX wrote:

Our tree is 3 years old with dual branch structure. Though the winter was nasty, below 28 degrees several times in 2009-2010 winter, we thought our 5' tree was dead. It is back in the game with new branch growth shooting up from the trunk of the specimen. We enjoy the unusual blooms from the top of the tree and the bright orange red color is attractive to Hummingbirds. It does bloom through most of the warm months with little care, has a shape similar to a flower bouquet, able to produce shade and privacy once larger and will grow to over 20 feet tall. Prune all of the lower branches to maintain a dual or triple trunk structure for best effect when young.

Neutral simon01 On Dec 13, 2009, simon01 from Spring, TX wrote:

Just moved into a home. In the front yard is a Fireman's Cap Tree. Neighbors say it is beautiful in the spring. Last week, we had a freeze here in Spring, Texas and the tree leaves are hanging down. Do I cut the limbs back? If so, how far back?
Any information is appreciated.

Positive joan30157 On Sep 10, 2007, joan30157 from Dallas, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I love this plant here in Georgia zone 7 it is a bush grows to about 6 feet then completely dies back with frost to reemerge in spring. Mine flowers throughout the summer yet has never set seeds. So far I haven't got any cutting to root. The hummingbirds love this plant.

Positive bamagirl35973 On Jul 9, 2007, bamagirl35973 from Rome, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I found this tree growing in my aunts yard here in zone 7b. She said that she got it from her mother-in-law many years ago. It dies down every winter and comes back every summer. The present height is about 6 foot and it is bushy, more like a shrub than a tree. I just thought that this was very unusual to have something so tropical thriving here in our zone.

Positive aprilwillis On Sep 14, 2006, aprilwillis from Missouri City, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This tree never fails to draw onlookers when in bloom. In bloom it is beautiful - when not in bloom makes an attractive tree/shrub.

Positive halleymarcelle On Jul 7, 2006, halleymarcelle from Athens, GA wrote:

I found this plant on my great grandmother's homeplace in middle Georgia. No one seemed to recognize it, but were all amazed by how beautifully it has thrived on the abandoned place for many years. It dies back to the ground every winter, but by mid summer it makes an attractive eight foot shrub with unique foliage and those large spikes of tropical red flowers. A great specimen plant for our area.

Positive afy65 On Sep 6, 2004, afy65 from Cliffsend, Kent
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

Grown a few of these little babies in my conservatory and outside this year - I planted them in Feb of this year and they have now reached a height of 31" - You will get some yellowing and leaf loss on the lower levels of the tree if you let it dry out - keep any eye on the compost don't let it dry out between watering - but remember this is a tree and you dont get leaf growth on the lower parts of a trunk.

Neutral Hessel On Jul 18, 2004, Hessel from Amsterdam
Netherlands wrote:

Hello all,
I have bought this tree six weeks ago here in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I have got it inside my appartment, under a 6 meter (18ft) high glass roof. The tree itself is around three-and-a-half.
Am I the only one keeping it inside? :) The garden centre sold it to me as a tree that could be kept inside but it is losing a lot of leaves. The leaves on top (in the full sun, well if it shines in Holland) seem to be doing very well - the ones near the bottom die of quickly. I did not get any instructions on how to keep the tree. Is there anyone who has some experience having it inside? I would love to learn from you, how you cultivate it etc. I am still unsure if I should give it lots of water (as it has big leaves) or not. Greetings from Amsterdam.
P.S. Mine does have the yellow veins on the leaves and the young branches have thorns

Negative enalter On May 31, 2004, enalter from Leakesville, MS (Zone 8b) wrote:

A beautiful plant especially in bloom.. My research indicates that the plant is poisonious especially the seeds, so watch for the little children that think the seeds are pretty and prehaps would like to put them in their mouth.

Neutral KristyLBW On Apr 21, 2004, KristyLBW from Corpus Christi, TX wrote:

We live in Corpus Christi, Texas and this tree (Fireman's cap) grows in our backyard and produces a very brilliant pinkish red bloom with green leaves underneath. It's probably about 15 - 20 ft. in height and about the same in width. The limbs are very brittle but the trunk seems strong. It puts out a very fragrant scent and blooms until mid to late summer. I haven't seen another one in this area. I thought it might be dead this past winter as it looked really bare but it came back in full force. I hope to plant seeds from it in pots. Hope it works.

Positive Monocromatico On Jan 13, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This tree is particularly spectacular when blooming. The big flowers have a strong flavoured nectar that never fails on atracting hummingbirds.

Neutral AusTXpropagater On Sep 5, 2003, AusTXpropagater from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

In Houston - zone 9, and Central Texas - zone 8, this plant regularly freezes back severely. It usually produces new shoots from the base after a brief dormancy during what passes for winter in the southern half of Texas. Most specimens that I have seen here form multi-trunked shrubs -- some up to 15 feet tall (in Houston). Contrary to one of the posted pictures, I have never seen it blooming without leaves. I have grown this plant from seed; however, in the past few years I have not seen the usual specimens bearing fruit. I can't explain the recent infertility.

Positive palmbob On Jul 9, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a bit of a lower, shrubby coral tree, not very attractive in the winter when it's both flowerless and leafless... one of those coral trees that produce flowers and leaves at the same time (many do one, then the other), though if watered well, many will flower year round with brief periods of no flowers. Flowers elongate, along the last 1' of branch- hard to tell exactly where the flower starts and the branch ends. Many of the branches die at least near the tips when going through a deciduous phase... requires yearly pruning to keep from looking super messy and out of control, particularly of the dead branches. I prune in the spring so I know which branches are dead and which will come back (before that I cannot tell which are which). Tree is very durable and handles severe pruning well.

The seeds are very easy to germinate, and are very attractive oblong, smooth and slightly swirly looking brown/tan seeds.. and highly toxic! Their surface is reminscent of polished stone. While growing seedlings water is extremely important.. .but once established, its a pretty drought tolerant species. I had a tree in my last yard I grew from seed... it's already large and flowers nearly year round. Great looking tree if you keep the dead branches pruned back.

Positive kayinms On Oct 27, 2002, kayinms wrote:

Beautiful showy tree. Blooms (red, pea type blooms) all over in late spring/early summer and intermittantly all summer. Has bad thorns. Have had a 15 ft. tree freeze to the ground. (We actually mowed over it.) About the end of July, it began growing back & within a year was almost as large as before. In zone 8B the tips of limbs froze every year but when pruned off, it was fine. (Don't know what other soils it grows in but ours tested about 4.5.) Can be propogated by cuttings or easily grown from seed. Had several people who stopped to ask what that gorgeous tree was.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Gaylesville, Alabama
Jones, Alabama
Oneonta, Alabama
Glendale, Arizona
Arcadia, California
Arroyo Grande, California
Chowchilla, California
Concord, California
Encinitas, California
Fresno, California
Long Beach, California
Manhattan Beach, California
Merced, California
Reseda, California
Richmond, California
Sacramento, California
San Leandro, California
Santa Maria, California
Spring Valley, California
Upland, California
Vista, California
Boca Raton, Florida
Gulf Breeze, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Miami, Florida
Navarre, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Bainbridge, Georgia
Cornelia, Georgia
Dallas, Georgia
Meansville, Georgia
Townsend, Georgia
Ainaloa, Hawaii
Hana, Hawaii
Kailua Kona, Hawaii
Baker, Louisiana
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (5 reports)
Covington, Louisiana
Metairie, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
Saint Francisville, Louisiana
Slaughter, Louisiana
Youngsville, Louisiana
Leakesville, Mississippi
Brooklyn, New York
Beaufort, South Carolina (2 reports)
Belton, South Carolina
Bluffton, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Athens, Texas
Austin, Texas
Beaumont, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Devers, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Georgetown, Texas
Greenville, Texas
Houston, Texas (4 reports)
Humble, Texas
Laredo, Texas
Missouri City, Texas
Oakhurst, Texas
Pearland, Texas
Richmond, Texas
Sandia, Texas
Spring, Texas

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