coral bean
Erythrina herbacea
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAMES: flea weed, mamou
  • LEAVES: alternate, or clustered at node; usually deciduous; trifoliate with hastate (arrow-shaped) leaflets; dull green; conspicuous reticulate venation; rachis with recurved spines
  • FLOWER: showy, scarlet, born on leafless spikes; appear April to June
  • FRUIT: legume pod, 5 to 10 hard scarlet 1/4 inch beans; pod pointed; opens at maturity; beans poisonous (alkaloid)
  • TWIGS:
  • BARK:
  • FORM: multiple-stemmed herbaceous shrub; stems greenish to brown with stout recurved thorns; about 3 ft tall; subtropical areas to 25 ft and 10 diameter
  • HABITAT: well-drained, sandy site
  • RANGE: southeastern US and south into Mexico
  • USES: ornamental; cough syrup; beads used for necklaces; poison from seeds (erythroidine, alkaloid) used to kill rats, fish, pest animals; neuro-toxin similar to curare
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. large clusters of scarlet flowers
    2. trifoliate compound leaves
    3. legume with 5-10 scarlet beans