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



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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...


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?


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.


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.


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


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!


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.


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

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


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.