Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Erythrina flabelliformis, Coralbean

Erythrina flabelliformis, Coralbean, Southwest Desert Flora Erythrina flabelliformis, Coralbean, Southwest Desert Flora Erythrina flabelliformis, Coralbean, Southwest Desert Flora Erythrina flabelliformis, Coralbean, Southwest Desert Flora

Scientific Name: Erythrina flabelliformis
Common Name: Coralbean

Also Called: Chilicote, Indian-bean, Southwest Coral Bean (Spanish: Chilicote, Peonía, Coralina, Colorín)

Family: Fabaceae or Leguminosae Family

Synonyms: ()

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: To 15 feet (4.6 m) in the southwest, much larger elsewhere.

Growth Form: Coralbean is a small tree or shrub; stems prickly.

Leaves: Although Coralbean is leafless and inconspicuous most of the year (approximately for nine months), however the triangular leaflets are green, fan shaped and turn a golden hue in the fall; as with the stems, the leaf stalks are also prickly.

Flower Color: Coralbean has large striking red tubular flowers that are dramatic even from a distance; the fruit is a brown pod with toxic showy red or dark orange seeds.

Flowering Season: Spring and late summer after sufficient monsoon rainfall.

Elevation: 3,000 to 5,500 feet (914-1,676 m).

Habitat Preferences: Dry rocky slopes, washes and in canyons.

Recorded Range: Coralbean is rare in the United States where it is native only to southern Arizona (Pima and Santa Cruz Counties) and southwest and southeast New Mexico. It is also native to Baja California and northern and central Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Erythrina flabelliformis.

North America species range map for Coralbean, Erythrina flabelliformis:

North America species range map for Coralbean, Erythrina flabelliformis:
Click image for full size map.

U.S. Weed Information: Unknown
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Unknown
Wetland Indicator: Unknown
Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown

Genus Information: In North America, USDA Plants Database lists 13 native and introduced species for Erythrina. Worldwide, World Flora Online includes 345 accepted species for the genus.

The genus Erythrina was published in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778).

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, New Mexico and Texas each have 1 species of Erythrina, California, Nevada and Utah have 0 species. Data approximate, subject to revision.

Comments: Both a beautiful and relatively rare tree, shrub or sub-shrub in Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico. Most members of Erythrina and found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Erythrina is an important horticulture plant because of their beautiful brilliant red flowers. A common landscape and road-side plant in southern California.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Coralbean, Erythrina flabelliformis has attractive flowers, the flowers, their seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents in search of food, nectar and protection through cover.

Coralbean, Erythrina flabelliformis is known to be pollinated by hummingbirds.

Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Honey Bees and Insects
Coralbean, Erythrina flabelliformis has attractive flowers, the flowers and their plants may be visited or used by butterflies, moths, flies, honeybees, native bees and other insects in search of nectar, food or shelter and protection.

The genus “Erythrina” is from the Greek derivative meaning "red"; a reference to the color of the flowers.

The genus Erythrina was published in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778).

The species epithet flabelliformis (flabellifor'mis:) means shaped like a small fan, a reference to the triangular leaflets.

The taxon, Erythrina flabelliformis was described in 1894 by Thomas Henry Kearney, (1874-1956).

Ethnobotany - Native American Ethnobotany; University of Michigan - Dearborn

Date Profile Completed: 08/21/2015, updated 01/26/2022
References and additional information:
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.; Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search; accessed 01/26/2022.
World Flora Online; A Project of the World Flora Online Consortium; An Online Flora of All Known Plants - (accessed 01/26/2022) The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 01/26/2022).
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN. Published on the Internet; accessed 01/26/2022. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
Benson and Darrow 1981, Kearney and Peebles 1969; Editors: S.Buckley 2010, F.S.Coburn 2015; from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; accessed 01/26/2022.
Seiler, John, Peterson, John, North American species range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
Etymology: Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 01/26/2022)
IPNI (2020). International Plant Names Index. Published on the Internet, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries and Australian National Botanic Gardens. [Retrieved 26 January 2022].