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Products > Erythrina coralloides 'Bicolor'
Erythrina coralloides 'Bicolor' - Naked Coral Tree
Image of Erythrina coralloides 'Bicolor'
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Fabaceae = Pea Family
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Bloomtime: Spring
Height: 20-30 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Erythrina coralloides 'Bicolor' (Naked Coral Tree) - This interesting form of the common Naked Coral Tree has red and white flower clusters from February to June. As with the typical form, this deciduous tree grows to 20-30 feet tall with erratic branching from the base and having smooth greenish tan colored bark and thorny stems holding trifoliate leaves that flush out in summer months with light green colored 5 to 6 inch long by 3 inch wide leaflets. The flowers in late winter and spring (from February to early June in Santa Barbara) are held at the branch tips in cone shaped clusters but, unlike the typically red flowers of the common Naked Coral Tree, this form has clusters that can be all red, all white or a mix of the two all on the same branches.

Plant in full sun in a well-draining soil and water occasionally to infrequently. It is cold hardy to frosts down to the mid 20's F. A useful tree in a sunny dry garden where its sculptural mustard-brown trunk and thorny stems crowned with clusters of flowers are appreciated while the tree is leafless - it is quite a stunning sight and the flowers are especially sought out by hummingbirds.

Erythrina coralloides is native to eastern Mexico from Tamaulipas south to Oaxaca. The name Erythrina is from the Greek word 'erythros' meaning "red" in reference to the color of the flowers of most of the species. The specific epithet means a resemblance to marine coral. in reference to resemblance of this species to marine coral.

We have long wondered where this red and white flowering form hailed from originally. There is speculation that this unique plant with some flowers white and others red is a sectorial chimera with two genetically distinct tissue types together within the same stem. Our plants came from a single plant that Lotusland Botanic Garden donated to the Santa Barbara County Horticultural Society for a plant sale held in 1985. Lotusland never accessioned the plant and it there was never a planting of it in their garden. The Huntington Botanic Garden had a similar (maybe the same) plant located in the garden near the Oxford gate (Huntington Accession # 49424). Their records had the plant coming to them in 1984 from Melchior Camarillo of San Fernando Valley. Sadly, this plant at the Huntington Botanic Garden no longer exists. There are two specimen plants in front of a bank building at the corner of La Cumbre Road and State Street in Santa Barbara and one at the northeast corner of the adminstration building (Cheadle Hall) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which also has one of the best collections of coral trees in California. 

This information about Erythrina coralloides 'Bicolor' displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.