Erythrina herbacea

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Erythrina herbacea
Erythrina herbacea Gil.jpg
Photo taken by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae ⁄ Leguminosae
Genus: Erythrina
Species: E. herbacea
Binomial name
Erythrina herbacea
ERYT HERB dist.jpg
Natural range of Erythrina herbacea from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Redcardinal, Coral bean, Cherokee bean

Taxonomic notes

Synonym: Erythrina arborea (Chapman) Small


"Perennial herb, 0.6-1.2 m tall (or shrub or tree up to 8 m high further south) with usually prickly brachlets. Leaves pinnately 3-foliolate; leatlets thinly chartaceous, glabrous, or nearly so, throughout, occasionally pricky beneath, hastately 3-lobed to widely deltoid, (2) 4-8 (12) cm long, stipellate. Inflorescence terminal, much elongate on usually leafless stems arising from the crown, (1) 3-7 dm long with few to numerous, papilionaceous flowers; pedicels 3-9 mm long, subtended by linear- lanceolate bracts 1-4 mm long and with 2 liner, caduceus bractlets, 1-2 mm long. Calyx glabrous, or nearly so, tubecampanulate, truncate, 5-11 mm long; the standard scarlet, 3-5.3 cm long, wings 5.5-11 mm long, keel 6-13 mm long; stamens diadelphous, 9 and 1; stigma capitate, ovary and stipe pubescent. Legume 7-15 (21) cm long, 1.2-1.6 cm broad, constricted between the several to many, scarlet seeds, stipe 1.5-4.5 cm long." [1]




E. herbacea occurs in sand pine woodlands, sandy hills, along edges of sinkholes, live oak-cabbage palm forests, uplands, hammocks, flatwoods, sand pine scrub, pine-palmetto scrub near ocean, longleaf pine-wiregrass savannas, shaded slopes of river bluffs, and in calcareous open prairies. Found in disturbed areas such as along roadsides, in understory of recently clear cut pine woodlands, and edges of woodlands. Can thrive in areas that are shady, semi-shady, or open. Is associated with areas that have sand soil types, sandy loam, loam, thin loamy sand, and calcareous soil types.[2]

Associated species include Quercus geminata, Q. chapmanii, Q. incana, Osmanthus megacarpus, Ilex ambigua, Vitis rotundifolia, Serenoa repens, Persea, Myrica, Carya glabra var. megacarpa, Pinus palutris, Baccharis halimifolia, Rhus copalina, Callicarpa americana, Diospyros virginiana, Morus.[2]


Has been observed flowering from February to June and fruiting from April to August.[2]

Fire ecology

Is associated with annually burned pinelands.[2]

Conservation and management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 634. Print.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: June 2014. Collectors: D. B. Ward, G. Crosby, R. Kral, George R. Cooley, Carroll E. Wood, Jr., Kenneth A. Wilson, R.K. Godfrey, Grady W. Reinert, James D. Ray, Jr., C. E. Smith, Olga Lakela, Jackie Patman, Richard J. Eaton, Richard S. Mitchell, Tom Barnes, C. Jackson, A. F. Clewell, Loran C. Anderson, Gary R. Knight, K. Craddock Burks, S. W. Leonard, Elbert L. Little, Jr., Robert J Lemaire, Jack P. Davis, Rodie White, Wilson Baker, R. Komarek, Lisa Keppner, Annie Schmidt, Travis MacClendon, Karen MacClendon, Tim Clemons, R. L. Wilbur, C. Ritchie Bell, Samuel B. Jones, Nancy Coile, et al., Roomie Wilson, Clarke Hudson, Sidney McDaniel, and A Traverse. States and Counties: Florida: Brevard, Calhoun, Citrus, Collier, Dade, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hardee, Indian River, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Marion, Okaloosa, Pasco, Pinellas, St Lucie, Suwannee, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington. Georgia: Grady and McIntosh. Louisiana: Hammond. Mississippi: Adams, Jasper, and Kemper. South Carolina: Berkeley and Horry. Texas: Harris.