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Products > Erythrina nigrorosea
Erythrina nigrorosea - Coral Bean
Image of Erythrina nigrorosea
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Fabaceae = Pea Family
Origin: North America
Flower Color: Pink
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [E. herbacea ssp. nigrorosea]
Height: 6-8 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20° F
Erythrina nigrorosea (Coral Bean) - A showy semi-herbaceous deciduous upright-growing shrub to 8 feet tall with compound leaves composed of three light green leaflets with prickles on the midribs and open terminal cluster of 2 inch long, pink-bannered flowers with nearly black calyces at their base. The flowers are followed by long dark seed pods that are constricted between the seeds and split lengthwise to reveal the bright red seeds in late summer to fall.

Plant in full sun to light shade and irrigate occasionally to very little. This plant is listed as hardy to 15°F on the Dave's Garden website but we have not been able to verify this but had plants the very cold winter of 1990 in the Goleta California garden of John Bleck. This is a showy shrubby coral tree that is attractive to humans and to hummingbirds.

Erythrina nigrorosea is native to eastern Mexico from Tamaulipas south to Chiapas. 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 original specific epithet for this plant when it was considered a subspecies of Erythrina herbacea comes from the Latin 'herb' meaning "vegetation", "grass" or "herbage" and the suffix 'acea' meaning "resembling", likely in reference to the manner which this species has herbaceous growth that can re-emerges from ground level each year so the plant is more of a shrub than a tree. The subspecies epithet (now the species epithet) is from the Latin words 'niger' meaning "black" and 'rosea' meaning "black and rose colored" in reference to the black calyces and pink flowers.

We saw this plant commonly growing alongside the road while travelling in Mexico in Oaxaca north through Puebla, Veracruz and San Luis Potosi. This plant was first collected in 1902 by Edward Palmer (1831-1911), who was considered the "the father of ethnobotany" near Los Canos in the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico but it was officially described in 1972 by New York Botanic Garden botanists Boris A. Krukoff and Rupert Charles Barneby from a collection made by Krukoff in Oaxaca. They described the differences between this species and another pink-flowering Mexican species, Erythrina standleyana, as the latter having ovate terminal leaflets, nodding flowers with keel petals not exceeding the wings as opposed to Erythrina herbacea ssp. nigrorosea (this plants older name) with flabellate-deltate (fan shaped at base) terminal leaflets, erect flowers and keel-petals usually longer than wings. In May 2016 Guy Nesom, published a manuscript in Phytoneuron (2016-4:1-12) that elevated this taxon to species rank as Erythrina nigrorosea (Krukoff &Barneby) Neson. Images on this page were taken by Randy Baldwin at a location near Aquismón, San Luis Potosi. Our seed from Roland Dubuc who collected seed from the small tree within his Fallbrook, California garden. 

This information about Erythrina nigrorosea 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.