The coral bean (UPDATE: also known as Erythrina herbacea, for those of you pointing out my lack of Latin in this post) is one of my favorite Florida wildflowers:
They’re just about to burst into full bloom right now.
This particular coral bean is growing at the base of one of my Japanese persimmon trees. If you’ve read my book Create Your Own Florida Food Forest, you know the main reason I love these things: they’re a perennial nitrogen-fixer.
Coral bean flowers also beautiful and that certainly counts for something.
Coral beans bloom in the spring and then settle down into a nondescript thorny little shrub with attractive leaves the rest of the warm season. In the winter, they’ll freeze back during frosts but always come back from their thick, tuberous underground root.
The ones in my food forest were started from seed a few years ago, then transplanted here and there around the yard. The flowers fall to reveal green bean pods which in turn, split open in the fall and winter to reveal bright red beans inside. These are unfortunately poisonous; however, they’re quite pretty… much like this other creature named coral:
Both are unlikely to ever hurt you, though. In the case of coral beans you’d have to find and chew the seeds up. In the case of a coral snake, you’d have to pick the thing up and really irritate it, then let it gnaw on your pinky or something. It’s not all that easy to get killed by a coral snake… or a coral bean.
Now that I’ve triggered all my snake-fearing readers, my work is done for the day.
Catch you tomorrow.