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Products > Erythrina x bidwillii
Erythrina x bidwillii - Shrub Coral Tree

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Fabaceae = Pea Family
Origin: Garden Origin
Flower Color: Red
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Parentage: (E. herbacea x E. crista-galli)
Height: 8-12 feet
Width: 10-15 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 x bidwillii (Shrub Coral Tree) - This is a deciduous small tree or multi-stemmed shrub that can grow to as tall as 18 feet but is typically seen as an 8 foot shrub. It blooms continually on the new growth from spring through winter with peak flowering in summer months. The narrow 2" long dark red flowers are on long 2-3 foot spikes that arch out and above the foliage. Water infrequently (Coastal) to regularly. Trim back after flowering and prune hard in winter to maintain shape. This plant inherits hardiness from its parentage (E. herbacea x E. crista-galli), being hardy to 20 F without damage and root hardy below this - unusual for a Coral Tree! This is a great garden plant - one of the best and smallest of the coral trees. It is typically seen as a shrub but with time and some training it makes a very nice small tree - the 2nd image link from this page shows a row of this plant so trained in front of a commercial building along Hawthorne Blvd in Torrance but this planting sadly no longer exists. This plant was the result of cross between Erythrina herbacea, a North American species and Erythrina crista-galli from South America. This hybrid was first done by William Macarthur in the early 1840s at Camden Park in Australia. Macarthur was one of the most active and influential horticulturists in Australia of his time and he originally named the plant Erythrina camdeni. The English botanist John Carne Bidwill, then living in Sydney, sent plant to the botanist William Herbert in England, suggesting the name Erythrina macarthuri to honor its originator. When John Lindley published the name in the Botanical Register in 1847, the origin apparently was not clear to him so he named it after Bidwill. There is no evidence that this cross was not later remade in the U.S. but there is some presumption that the plants in cultivation here are Macarthur's plant from Camden Park, which is sometimes referred to as Erythrina x bidwillii 'Camdeni' - there is another clone from this cross called Erythrina x bidwillii 'Blakei' that has purple flower shoots and dies to the ground annually while the 'Camdeni' form, like those in the U.S., have green shoots and can grow to be small trees. Peter Riedel in his Plants for Extra-Tropical Regions (published in 1957 after Riedel had died) listed the plant as Erythrina herbacea 'Bidwillii' noting that it was first listed in a catalog in the U.S. in 1945. He also noted that the famous plantsman Bill Evans (Evans and Reeves Nursery and landscape designer of Disneyland) called this plant "by all odds the finest of all the true shrubby types of Erythrina, coming into bloom in May, flowering almost perpetually throughout the summer, carrying innumerable, long, slender, graceful stems of glowing crimson flowers, contrasting with the green foliage." We started growing this great plant in 1982. Another common name we have seen for this plant is Fireman's Cap.  The information on this webpage is based on research conducted about this plant in our nursery library, from online sources, as well as from observations made of it as it grows in the nursery in containers, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens where we have observed it growing. We will also incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing  Erythrina x bidwillii.