This post, “Crybaby” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana



The Crybaby Tree (Erythrina crista-galli) has just started blooming.  According to everything I have read about this tree, it is an heirloom plant that has been planted in the South forever.  They are called “crybaby” because nectar is supposed to drip from the blossoms, though I have never seen mine do this. 


Many years ago, my neighbor had one in her yard and had to cut it down to put in a driveway. The next spring, little seedlings popped up in her yard, and I dug up three.  I gave one to my mom, one to my sister, and I kept one.  I kept mine in a pot for a year to give it some size before I put it in the ground.  From a four inch seedling, I now have a ten foot tree.


I planted it on the property line where it would get some sun.  It grew well the first year but froze to the ground.  It came back bigger the next spring.  For about three years it froze to the ground, and then as it got bigger only the top would freeze.  I have read that the rootstock can take -10 degrees if mulched very well.  When the warm weather came, it would send out shoots from about four feet off the ground.  Now, only the top two feet seem to freeze.


About three years after I planted this tree and it was a good size, I made a flower bed the length of the property line where it was planted.  I put in some azaleas, lorepetulum and other fuchsia, pink, or purple flowering plants.  It wasn’t until the crybaby tree started to bloom that I realized the color of its blooms and everything else clashed.  But I quickly realized, I didn’t care.  I liked this tree too much to take it out (it was too big, anyway), so I left it alone.



Now that it has grown bigger and has more flower stalks, it really is a striking display.  I don’t think it looks too out of place with the other flowering plants since it is blooming between the flowering of most of the fuschia colored ones.  


This plant does have a few drawbacks besides the freezing back in the winter.  It does have some thorns, and is said to be poisonous.   


This past April, I bought a relative of the Cry Baby Tree, the Coral Bean Tree.  This has bright red flowers that look like claws.  It is only about 8 inches high, so I think it will be a while before I have flowers to show.  I can’t wait – these erythrina plants are so unusual.


  1. Nancy Bond said,

    May 4, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Your Crybaby is a stunning color! Beautiful anywhere in your garden.

  2. Jan said,

    May 6, 2008 at 4:30 am

    Yes, Nancy, it has finally reached a good size and this year has a lot of blooms stalks. It will be something when they all open up and there is that orangey-red color all over the tree.

  3. Ki said,

    May 6, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    I have never seen a crybaby tree in my lifetime. The flowers look a little like anthuriums. I guess it’s the heart shaped flowers and spate like appendage that resembles the anthurium.

  4. Jan said,

    May 6, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Hi, Ki. When more of the blooms are open, I will post a picture of the entire tree in bloom. It is really wonderful.

  5. Randy said,

    May 8, 2008 at 11:47 am

    I don’t give a lot of thought to if colors clash or not. I guess I should be more attentive. I’m just happy to see blooms. 🙂

  6. Jan said,

    May 10, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Randy, I am not real fussy about colors clashing, but I do try and plan where I plant things so that it shows a harmonious display. Of course, as my garden has matured and space is becoming limited for new things, color planning is becoming more important.

  7. sbm said,

    May 26, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    a friend of my mother gave her a “log” and said it was a cry baby tre e. she thinks she can just stick it in the ground and it will grow as per the friend’s instructions. what do you suggest?


  8. Jan said,

    May 26, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    I have never grown a crybaby from a cutting, only from seeds, but from what I have read, you can grow them from cuttings. I would go ahead and follow the friend’s advice. After all, what have you got to lose? Let me know if it works.

  9. Bertha said,

    May 25, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    My aunt gave me a stick of the cry baby tree and told me to lay it flat on ground and cover it with dirt, that been quite a few years ago and it still blooming . i cut it back after it has died down every year.
    thanks bertha

    • Jan said,

      May 25, 2009 at 8:14 pm

      Bertha, I got mine as a seedling from a neighbor. It died back the first few years, but now only a few branches die back.

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