Erythrina herbacea - Linnaeus
Fabaceae (Pea) Family
Plants are upright perennial herbs or shrubs. Preferred habitat is sandy woods and open areas. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
Leaves are alternate on the stem, set in groups of three (trifoliate) with leaflets triangular or arrowhead-shaped; no teeth and no lobes, or very shallowly lobed and having a squared base or sometimes slightly heart-shaped and attached to the stem between the lobes.
Flowers are in a terminal raceme (one flower above the other on a long scape); five red petals with an elongated banner (almost tubular); wings and keel are much smaller than the petals; ten stamens. Flowers occur in the spring and summer.
Fruit is a legume; poisonous.
This is a showy member of a large tropical genus with over 100 species. The distinctive flame-like flower clusters appear before or with the leaves. Its hard red seeds are used as beads. The species is a woody shrub in Florida but an herb in Alabama and other coastal areas.