Form: A shrub or small tree sometimes categorized as a semi-succulent.
Leaf retention: Deciduous.
Growth rate: Moderate to rapid.
Mature Size: 5-15' high and 4-12' wide.
Flowers: Red, tubular, 3" long, in clusters.
Bloom: Late winter or spring, often before leaves emerge.
Fruit: Long brown seed pods, with bright red to orange, toxic beans.
Leaves: Green, fan-shaped leaflets appear in the summer rainy season. The plant is leafless most of
the year unless watered.
Stems: Gray to light brown, curved, woody, somewhat swollen, allowing water storage. The stems
have short curved thorns. They may freeze to the ground in winter but will re-sprout from the roots.
First year stems do not produce flowers.
Roots: Large and swollen to provide water storage. Nitrogen-fixing*.
Wildlife: Attracts hummingbirds.
Toxic / Danger: All parts of this plant are toxic, especially the colored beans.
The stems and leafstalks have thorns.
Origin: Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico.
Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 10-11 for best flower production. Root hardy to zone 9.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun to part shade.
Water once established: Monthly. Twice a month to weekly may encourage leaves and/or flowers.
Soil: Well drained, pH 6.6-7.8 (neutral to slightly alkaline). *Do not use a nitrogen fertilizer.
Planting: Coralbean may be grown in a container. It is best placed in full sun with a southern
exposure and protected from freezes.
Prune: After the last freeze of winter, remove frost damage.
Litter: Leaf drop during dry periods.
Propagation: Seed or cuttings.
Uses: Hummingbird plant, ornamental.
This plant is a member of the Legume family (Fabaceae). Other common names are Coral Bean
and Chilicote. Flowers appear on the previous year's undamaged stems. If winter freeze damage
occurs, this plant may not flower. It may never flower in a region with yearly freezes.
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Latest update: February, 2019.