Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Fireman's Cap, Shrub Coral Tree
Erythrina x bidwillii

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Erythrina (er-ith-RY-nuh) (Info)
Species: x bidwillii (bid-WIL-lee-eye) (Info)

Synonym:Erythrina bidwillii
Synonym:Erythrina corallodendron

One vendor has this plant for sale.

4 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 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

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From semi-hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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Thumbnail #1 of Erythrina x bidwillii by htop

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Thumbnail #3 of Erythrina x bidwillii by htop

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Thumbnail #4 of Erythrina x bidwillii by palmbob

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Thumbnail #7 of Erythrina x bidwillii by arcadon

There are a total of 18 photos.
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7 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral porkpal On Feb 17, 2015, porkpal from Richmond, TX wrote:

I live in Fort Bend County Tx, and I have had this little tree for about seven years. It is planted in a rather exposed location and has never bloomed. Although many limbs freeze back each winter, it always survives and puts out new growth. Maybe next year it will bloom...

Neutral davesnothere234 On Jul 22, 2010, davesnothere234 from Dayton, TX wrote:

I've had the bidwillii in my garden now for 4 years. Its bloomed the first 2 years, but last year something seems to be eating the new growth so no blooms. Has anybody been experience this problem and know of a solution?

Positive Styllis On May 8, 2010, Styllis from Katy, TX wrote:

Houston, Zone 9. Have grown in group of 5 trees. Survived several days of freezing weather in 2009. Much new growth dies, so I cut back to 9'-10' bare trunks in winter dormancy. If I don't, tree will not bloom as much or show vitality. Poor air flow if new and old growth share the space. Thorns will cause skin irritation. I've removed them from trunks. Also easily break off shoots by hand that sprout along trunk periodically. Heavy ice split one trunk at crown division once, but did not affect remaining trunk. It's a total winner in my yard. Will seek to add photos.

Positive duggiehoo On Oct 21, 2007, duggiehoo from McDonough, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I grow this plant on the south side of my house. It dies back in the winter but grows quickly after sprouting late in the spring. Hummingbirds love it and it blooms constantly from May until frost. It is still blooming today Oct 21. For attracting hummers and constant bloom this is a great plant. Gets about 8 feet tall for me and as wide. Do not fall into it as it has great big thorns. Is virtually sterile so it does not produce the poisonous seeds of some Erythrina species.

Positive joshz8a On Mar 23, 2007, joshz8a from z8a, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Have grown this in 24" plastic pot for 3 years in Zone 8a. Beautiful plant and blooms constantly until our first freeze. Grows in full sun, with no protection in open area. Only care is daily (or at least every other day) watering in summer, weekly in winter. josh

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

The flowers are the most amazing and intense red that you can imagine, the pictures I have taken to share w/ friends do not begin to do justice to this beautiful tree!

Positive Maudie On Jul 22, 2004, Maudie from Harvest, AL wrote:

This plant is spectacular; has spiny branches and stems, and brilliant green leaves formed by three oval-shaped pinnutes. The flowers look like waxen sweet peas. It is a very large shrub in full sun in average well-drained soil. Seeds form in a pod like peas and may be collected when dry and split open. Propagation is also by cuttings, in warmth, in spring. It is cut down by frost but returns in spring even more vigorous.

Positive palmbob On Jul 21, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

shrubby relatively hardy horticultural cross with dark scarlet flowers in mid summer.

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

Erythrina x bidwillii, according to several sources, a sterile hybrid between E. crista-galli and E. herbacea, does not produce viable seed. Perhaps as a result of sterility, it channels more energy into blooming. In my experience with it in Central Texas, it freezes back in the winter but quickly recovers, producing new basal shoots a few weeks after a hard freeze. I have seen this plant bloom intermittently throughout the warm seasons. It produces recurved thorns on both stem and leaf spine (rachis). Few plants produce such a striking red flower -- shaped approximately like a lipstick. It also tolerates 100 degree (f) heat -- very important in Central Texas.


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

Phenix City, Alabama
Glendale, Arizona
Maricopa, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Oakland, California
Boca Raton, Florida
Mulberry, Florida
Ocoee, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Brunswick, Georgia
Mcdonough, Georgia
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Thibodaux, Louisiana
Pass Christian, Mississippi
Raleigh, North Carolina
Beaufort, South Carolina
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas
Baytown, Texas
Dayton, Texas
Hondo, Texas
Houston, Texas
Lewisville, Texas
Missouri City, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Temple, Texas
King George, Virginia

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