Lookout for Coralbean

Coralbean (Erythrina herbacea) is just beginning to flower on Orchid Island. Flowering tends to be later inland at places like the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area.

Coralbean often grows in the midst of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and hammock plants, reaching for the sun, as seen in southern Brevard County along Highway A1A in the photo below …

Also known as Cherokee bean, coralbean often, but not always, sheds all of its leaves prior to flowering. Its compound leaves are held in three’s as is common in the pea family, Fabaceae, and they have a distinctive arrowhead shape.

Spikes of tubular scarlet flowers occur throughout the winter months and attract hummingbirds and long-tongued butterflies. The color can vary from pinkish scarlet to deep scarlet from population to population. Flowering begins at the bottom of the spike and progresses to the top. You can just see the stamens in the lower flowers in the photo below taken in the hammock at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory …

Coralbean is named for its coral colored seeds. The hard seeds are said to be used to poison vermin and dogs in Mexico and south America, but birds reportedly consume and spread them.

Coralbean can be inter-planted in your landscape for a pop of winter color and to attract hummingbirds & butterflies. Look for it along roadsides and in natural areas in the winter months.

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