This is a nice Southern US/Northern Mexican caudiciform. There are about 100 species in this genus, and what unites them all are their very striking flowers.
Growth Habit: Shrubby, depending on conditions, sometimes growing to about 15 feet (5m) in height.
Scientific name: Erythrina herbacea L.
Common name(s): Cherokee Bean, Coral Shrub, Coral Bean, and Red Cardinal, from the red flowers and large red seeds of this species.
Etymology: From the Greek "erythros," meaning red, describing the color of the flowers.
Taxonomy: Described by Linnaeus in 1753. A number of subspecies of this species have been described since then.
Distribution: SE US and Northern Mexico.
Cultivation: An easy grower, but don't kill it with kindness. It will take as much water as you can give it during the summer, and will continue growing as long as you water it. Don't! It needs a dry rest for a few months over the winter.
Flowers: Very striking, elongated and red, and probably pollinated by birds.
Minimum temperature: Probably hardy down to freezing. I keep mine dry and above 40 degrees, which it seems happy with.
Conservation Status: Not protected.
Observations: I've had this species for three years. The first year, it leafed out before flowering. The last two years, it has flowered before leafing out, which seems to be the norm.
Another erythrina (E. americana, I think) at Teotihuacan, just outside of Mexico City:
A more in-depth look at individual succulent species, a new one is added each week.
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