rusty_blackhaw(6a)January 24, 2005

I used to grow E. crista-galli in SE Texas, where it was a modestly ornamental partial die-back shrub.

Out of curiosity I picked up seed of a few varieties of Erythrina, and so far have a couple of stocky young plantlings of E. speciosa v. rosea coming along.

Has anyone had luck with Erythrinas as temperennials in temperate zones (as foliage accents, or preferably flowering as well)?

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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I wasn't familiar with this species, so I looked it up on the internet, and apparently it is native to Norfolk Island off Australia, which is a climate that almost never has frost, and has provided many horticulturally interesting plants for coastal frost free gardens here in California. I wouldn't expect that this species will be practical for temperennial type plantings, unless brought inside for the winter. It is not seen here in California, although it may be grown at the UCLA Botanic Garden, the Huntington Botanic Garden or Quail Botanic Garden in Encinitas, but I don't know that for certainty. In any case, it has not become an introduced plant in the landscape industry here in California.

E. x bidwillii is one of the other shrubby/small tree species used here in northern California as a die-back plant for locations that sometimes freeze in zone 9 conditions, and does very well with enough summer heat to bloom reliably on new wood. I have some planted in client's gardens that are still in partial bloom in January, but lose most all their foliage even in a mild winter such as this one has been(coldest temps down to 34F or so up til now). I highly recommend this one for its very showy blooms and long bloom season, but don't think it will be reliably hardy left out over winter in your zone, even with heavy mulch, but worth trying as a container plant. Unfortunately it doesn't come true to seed. E. humeana var raja is also grown here in the same fashion, but did not perform well for me under cool summer conditions of Berkeley, I should try this one again in a hotter exposure of one of my client's gardens to see if it is worth growing here. I also recently saw a very large 20 foot tall by across E. caffra growing here locally, but with few blooms on it for lack of early spring warmth. It is seldom seen here in the San Francisco Bay Area, while being a staple for dramatic winter bloom in southern California. It certainly was dramatic as a specimen, (especially as it reached this size in only 4 years time), but can't be expected to ever be magnificent in bloom for lack of sufficient warmth to encourage full bloom, and too much winter rain to encourage full leaf drop which makes them so much more dramatic in Los Angeles.

I'd be interested to hear if your E. speciosa pans out back in Ohio, but I bet its provenance will work against you...

    Bookmark   January 26, 2005 at 9:26PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Further digging turns up this species as being native to Brazil, and coming from swampy conditions. It is apparently grown in southern California on occasion, as it is listed in the Southern California Horticultural Society's book, Selected Plants for Southern California.

As to definitions, I had always assumed that the term usually referred to those plants that may act as a dieback perennial in milder winters, or annuals in colder ones, yet still grow adequately in one growing season to flower or be useful for the purpose intended. Don't let me stop you from trying what ever you want to do, but I doubt whether this will prove to be another Sesbania or Bouvardia in your conditions.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 5:26PM
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There is a 'crista gali' growing at the capitol grounds in Sacramento Ca. zone 9 which gets a few days of frost, no die back. This older tree is doing very well and has zip overhead protection, but does lose her leaves in the winter.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 1:50AM
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garden_nerd(UK Central)

I've sowed seed 2 years running without any luck so far. They wouldn't germinate in the warm so this time I've been trying cold! Sounds like they won't come to anything in the variable British summer, anyway.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2005 at 5:28AM
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Corals are one of my favorite trees - they are the official city tree of Los Angeles. They plant the Mexican variety inside the highway interchanges of Southern CA, & they are beautiful in the spring. A tree with no leaves & bright orange blossoms  certainly an eye catcher.
I have seen a large version of the E. crista-galli. It was about 30 ft tall & had brown seeds. Sometimes coral seeds can develop small bugs so they should be watched for this. If you are storing the seeds, check them now & then. They seem to germinate best when fresh  some of the ones I received from trades have not done well. They should germinate fairly quickly.
Coral trees are zone 9-10, which you probably know. They flower in the spring  temperatures of about 70-80 during the day & about 40-50 at night. They are starting to flower now. If it does dwarf in your present zone, you could probably get it to flower by adjusting the environment  bringing it indoors to protect from freezing, etc.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2005 at 9:14AM
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rizzir(z7b TN)

I know of some fantastic Erythrina trees in St. Augustine, FL that are a brilliant orange! The owner is from Argentina and calls them "Ceibo" which he says is the national flower of Argentina. I am not sure but I think his trees are a variant of E. crista-galli, as they look similar to pictures, but this species is usually bright red. His trees (which are more like giant bushes, with several branches) die back to the ground if hit with frost and jump out of the ground again in the spring, getting to 16 ft. most years, and are just dripping with giant clusters of orange blooms. They are even more showy than his Bougainvilla. If there is no frost, they bloom even into January. The tree has formidable-looking thorns and is a very soft wood - he says he has to be careful when mowing the lawn, for several reasons.

I agree that seed should probably be germinated immediately - I waited over a year to try germinating mine, and only one of four germinated. I would not germinate until it is VERY warm outdoors if you are outside of FL, S. TX, or S. CA because mine was very wimpy in TN in early spring as a seedling. I ended up being so worried about it that I sent it to FL with a friend to plant at his vacation home.

I hope to obtain more seeds and try again with this plant similar to how people raise Brugmansias here in TN. Absoultely a car-stopping sight when in full bloom.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 9:05PM
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I'm just back from a trip to Argentina - it's really called "Ceibo" there, and it's Argentina's National Tree - we saw some magnificient species around Iguazu, big trees.

Had brought home several fresh seeds, that all rotted within a couple of days - obviously, they prefer drier soil.

I've been searching all the web to find seeds, or better, plants - found a nursery in CA that sells them for 65$ (5G-size) - and lots of nurseries in Europe.

I would prefer a 1 or 2-Gallon-sized plant - any suggestions?


    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 1:05AM
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My seeds came from J.L. Hudson and I had good germination for this species (nothing for E. crista-galli).

My E. speciosa plants are a couple of feet tall with woody trunks and are hardening off outdoors. Even if there is no bloom, I expect an interesting tropical foliage effect. I'll have to find a spot away from neighbors, as those thorns (stem and leaf) are pretty menacing and would undoubtedly damage any foliage with which they came into contact.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 12:39PM
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maleko(USDA 9)

There are other Cry Babies (common name for E.crista gali) in midtown Sacramento. I have seen them down back allies, in people's back yards. It is a South African native and they can usually take a little frost. It is naturally deciduous. Not sure why it is not used more often, it is spectacular when it blooms in early summer. I have taken tons of photos of the one in Capitol Arboretum.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 12:43PM
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plantaholic(zone 8a AL)

in central alabama, im growing crista-galli, herbacea (SE native), x bidwillii, and flabelliformis....all as garden perennials. however, the flabelliformis doesnt want to bloom for me. its a nice, big foliage plant, but i havent seen any flowers over the past 8 years.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 11:06AM
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braspadya(z7a MD)

I am growing E. x bidwillii for the first time this year. Plant Delights lists this as being hardy to Zone 7b, which is just a bit warmer than here in Maryland. My plan is to dig up as much of the roots as I can this fall after the first frost, & to store it in cold dry storage in my shed. The following year, I will try to propagate some extra pieces to test outside over the winter.

Has anyone else had luck doing this?


    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 6:01PM
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TonyfromOz(z10 NSW Aust)

Some of the trees that look like variations of E. crista-galli may be the rather similar E. falcata. See these links:

Here is a link that might be useful: Erythrina falcata

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 5:39AM
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braspadya(z7a MD)

In case anyone might be interested, I was happy to find that my Erythrina x bidwillii overwintered in my Zone 7 garden last winter. It was heavily mulched in a well-drained raised bed on a south-facing slope. And, it was a mild winter.

Happy gardening,


    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 8:35PM
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tamivileine(z8b OS,MS, US)

There are two, either E.crista-galli or E.falcata (I see possibly from the post, thanks) in downtown Ocean Springs Mississippi. Both survived Katrina (they are right in town, one very close to a house on the main street, one just off the main street). They both are very mature and bloom every year, in fact were blooming I think it was last week I was by there.

I've begged off one of the owners for cuttings but they've never taken. She told me that although hers blooms regularly, it does not always set seed.

I'd LOVE to have one of these, although I'm a bit further out in the country and not in the city microclimate and may lose it.

Maybe one day...
sea ya

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 8:13AM
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Just to add my experience: I've grown the Plant Delights' Erythrina x bidwillii in 24" outside container in east-central AL for 2 years. It has formed a huge knotty base and put up probably 10 6-foot stems this year. Sure does fill up space...would prefer tree-form. Beginning to bloom over past week...beautiful but I wish they could be used as cut-flowers...blooms drop off almost immediately when cut. josh

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 12:44AM
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