Erythrina Species, Cardinal Spear, Cherokee Bean, Coral Bean

Erythrina herbacea

Family: Fabaceae (fab-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Erythrina (er-ith-RY-nuh) (Info)
Species: herbacea (her-buh-KEE-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Corallodendron herbaceum
Synonym:Erythrina arborea
Synonym:Erythrina hederaefolia
Synonym:Erythrina humilis
Synonym:Erythrina rubicunda



Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Seed is poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:



Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

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 seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Auburn, Alabama

Daleville, Alabama

Tucson, Arizona(2 reports)

Arcadia, California

Bartow, Florida

Cape Coral, Florida

Chiefland, Florida

Cocoa, Florida

Deland, Florida(2 reports)

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Pierce, Florida

Gainesville, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Homosassa, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Lutz, Florida

New Port Richey, Florida(2 reports)

Ocala, Florida

Old Town, Florida

Oldsmar, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Sebring, Florida

Spring Hill, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Trenton, Florida

Wauchula, Florida

Webster, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida(2 reports)

Winter Haven, Florida

Yulee, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida

Zolfo Springs, Florida

Hahira, Georgia

Patterson, Georgia

Richmond Hill, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Suwanee, Georgia

Covington, Louisiana

Jeanerette, Louisiana

Jennings, Louisiana

Many, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Kosciusko, Mississippi

Maben, Mississippi

Roswell, New Mexico

Charlotte, North Carolina

Greensboro, North Carolina

Grenoble, Rhône-Alpes

Beaufort, South Carolina

Bluffton, South Carolina

Conway, South Carolina

Florence, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Lexington, South Carolina

Pelion, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina

Arlington, Texas

Austin, Texas(4 reports)

Bacliff, Texas

Bastrop, Texas

Belton, Texas

Boerne, Texas

Colmesneil, Texas

Conroe, Texas

Crawford, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Edinburg, Texas

Freeport, Texas

Hallsville, Texas

Harlingen, Texas

Houston, Texas

Huntsville, Texas

Kingsville, Texas

La Vernia, Texas

Magnolia, Texas

Mont Belvieu, Texas

Mount Enterprise, Texas

New Braunfels, Texas

Oakhurst, Texas

Portland, Texas

Rosenberg, Texas

Salado, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Shepherd, Texas

Stockdale, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Feb 10, 2018, RalphRickie from Charlotte, NC wrote:

Looking forward to attracting more hummers this season. We always put out feeders, but these beautiful red pod-shaped flowers should be a great draw.

Bought my seed on EBay from a fellow in Mamou, LA (another name is Mamou Plant). Here is his advice on planting:

"You soak these seeds overnight in water...the next day or when the seed is swollen..cut the tip till you see the green or white part with a knife or sizzors then just gently Pat them in the soil..don't bury it..keep about a week or less you should have germination. I start my seeds in a pot with potting soil then I transplant then to about one to every four feet these will get large.. humming birds love them."


On Feb 21, 2014, rosemarysims from Mermentau, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant is indigenous to ALL states bordering the gulf of Mexico including those in Mexico. There is nothing poisonous about the seeds, in fact they are often used in folk and indigenous medicine in both countries. Here in S Louisiana, one of our local hospitals (when there was such a thing) prepared a cough syrup each year from the big red seed. They boiled the seeds to extract the beneficials out, and added a little sugar and peppermint oil for flavor. This was not discontinued when Big Medicine and Big Pharma stomped into LA in the 60's. I have made this cough syrup myself and find it very effective and easy to prepare.


On Jan 10, 2014, Chris2011 from San Diego, CA wrote:


On Oct 26, 2011, devildog2 from Humble, TX wrote:

Discovered a plant on a dry sandy hill in full sunlight and thought I'd move it to a better spot; then found that I'd need a backhoe to get the root out. Built a fence to keep cattle away, and the plant has done wonderfully, even in this year's Texas drought. It gets nothing except what nature provides and went for 4-5 months in the summer with no rain and temps in the 95-105 range..


On Jun 26, 2011, tchefuncte from Covington, LA wrote:

We have a plant from root cutting 8 years old with stalks 6+ feet tall. It dies back every winter. Seems grow best in well drained soil that is allowed to dry. Others in moist soils have died. Our's is a native variety to the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana. It has been blooming since early May and has enough buds to continue well into July. We have had a dry year and this is the longest blooming season yet. Love the plant, humming birds, and butterflies.


On Oct 2, 2009, mswestover from Yulee, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Pops up everywhere from the birds dropping the seeds. Takes a while, about three to four months, for the seeds to germinate. Hummingbirds love it. I cut mine back to keep the thorns under control.


On May 15, 2009, Srivijaya from Boerne, TX wrote:

Cherokee Bean has done really well in our alkaline, "gumbo" clay. It will die down to within an inch or two of the woody crown in the winter, but typically resprouts in early March, and blooms from mid-April to early May here in Boerne. Mine receive full sun from early morning to about one. In my experience, they typically grow to around 3 to 4 feet high, and will spread a little wider than that. They do have little prickles on the petioles, and larger ones on the stems, but they are such a treat to grow.


On Nov 6, 2008, Kendalia from Kendalia, TX wrote:

I have very good evidence that this plant does not require acid soil. My plant has been thriving for 4 years--in highly alkaline soil.
I like this plant because the flowers are gorgeous. They emerge on a spike in the spring, and continue to bloom for many weeks.


On Sep 28, 2008, nightshift from Stockdale, TX wrote:

Although very attractive, I have found this plant to be incredibly invasive in my area. I took out several this spring and by fall I had five new ones in completely different areas. Don't know how they got there as we were very careful with disposal of the old ones.


On Mar 5, 2008, penpen from North Tonawanda, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I am in western NY state so my plant that was grown from seed is growing in a container. Here at Dave's Garden it is rated hardy to zone 6b but every other place I have checked says zone 8. I don't want to take a chance on losing it. If I am able to start another from seed I may just give it a shot in a very protected area of my garden in ground. Mine is just about a year old now from the day the seed germinated but it hasn't bloomed yet. I am looking forward to seeing those blooms and I am sure my hummers will be all over it.


On Dec 30, 2007, jameso from Longview, TX wrote:

The coral bean can also be propagated by cuttings also although the cuttings seem to require a lot of regular water in order to keep the new tiny leaves from drying out before they get any size.


On Apr 22, 2006, TexasPuddyPrint from Edinburg, TX wrote:

Very eye-catching plant when it's full of blooms and equally interesting when the pods start to pop open and you can see the red beans.

The hummingbirds love nectaring from this plant.


On May 5, 2005, QueenB from Shepherd, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant grows in a wild population here, and it's spectacular to see a big mound in bloom! The I-69 Corridor is coming right through where I took my photos, so I'm going to see if I can't relocate them to a place on my property. I just can't see letting them be destroyed!


On Jul 31, 2004, patp from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

When I saw the beautiful flowers of this plant growing under the most inhospitable conditions, I knew it was meant for me. I harvested beans from a seed pod in the fall and planted them in the spring. My husband was not thrilled when he saw the thorny plant growing, but he's changed his opinion of the plant since seeing the lovely red tubular flowers. Hummingbirds are thrilled, too.


On Jul 30, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Saw one of these for the first time in Pasadena California this week and it was in full flower and barely and leaves... in July. And the flowers were a shocking pink! Anyone seen this as a pink plant before?


On May 5, 2004, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

The coral bean is a beautiful Texas Native plant, that brings gorgeous color to the spring garden. The flowers are so bright that they seem to glow. Mine dies back to the ground and comes back every year. The woody root is very large, I found this out when I transplanted it two years ago.


On May 5, 2004, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I have been growing this plant since 1998, when I harvested some seed from a plant that had been in my parent's back yard in South Georgia for many years.

My book on Florida's native plants says this plant is highly variable, and that some strains are attacked by the erythrina stem borer and leaf miners. It also says that the plant has "greatly enlarged woody roots" and can survive both insects and drought by using the reserves stored in these roots.

My one plant that survived the past two moves is spectacularly beautiful, with large three-part, deep green leaves, and huge red flowers. It grows to about five feet tall every year, but has frozen to the ground the past two years in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b, only to re-emerge larger and stronger the ne... read more


On May 4, 2004, Kaufmann from GOD's Green Earth,
United States (Zone 8b) wrote:

I found this plant growing wild in a Texas coastal area. There was a lot of it, and stated above is that it requires very acidic soil to thrive. The soil where I found this is very alkaline. So, it must be adaptable to different conditions.


On Jan 9, 2003, ButterflyGardnr from Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is a hummingbird attractant. Blooms form on old wood--pruning will reduce the blooms. The plant can grow to 24 feet in height in the southernmost parts of its range. Frost and salt spray limit its height along the coastal and more northern parts of its range. The bean pods containing the seeds can be harvested to prevent ingestion by inquisitive pets and children. The seeds are highly toxic. This plant has many thorns so be careful when working around it.


On Nov 29, 2002, FL_Gator from Dunnellon, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant has been great for me. It is very drought tolerant, and is a source for spectacular early season color. It surprised me this year. Bloom spikes were emerging, when a severe freeze in spring killed both plants to the ground. However, it came back and bloomed like nothing had happened.


On Apr 8, 2002, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Cherokee bean in endemic to the Southeastern United States. It is a showy plant that does well in part shade and well drained soil although it blooms better in full sun. The blooms are tubular, curving and vivid red on spikes a foot or more in length. It is salt and drought tolerant. Cherokee Bean may die back in very cold weather but new growth will appear in the spring.The bright red seeds are poisonous. Propagation is by cuttings or seeds.