Eythrina x bidwillii

Erythrina x bidwillii 'Camdeni'

Camden Coral Tree


29.7cm x 42cm

Watercolour and graphite on Fabriano Artistico extra white cotton rag 300gsm


The vibrant red of this spectacular flower is inspiring to a painter. To replicate it on paper was a challenge. Daniel Smith's Pyrrol Red was equal to the task, delivering a deep vermilion red in several washes which adhered well, along with some other  hues to give more depth.

The flower comes from a tree of modest size, the Erythrina × bidwillii 'Camdeni' or the 'Camden Coral Tree'. This particular cultivar was produced by hybridising Erythrina species at Camden Park Estate, New South Wales, Australia, in the early 1840s by William Macarthur, one of the most active horticulturists in Australia. It was named after John Bidwill because he, Bidwill, first took it to England in 1843 (Bidwill had no other association with its breeding).

'Camdeni' is one of two results of crossing Erythrina herbacea with Erythrina crista-galli.

This specimen was grown in the garden of HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, where his helpful gardener, Wayne Watson, helped with specimen collection. When both artist and gardener waited in vain for seed pods from this tree in order to complete the botanical illustration, further research about 'Camdeni' revealed that it is, in fact, a sterile cultivar, and our patience would never have been rewarded...

The botanical illustration aspect of this piece depicts the separate elements of the flower which show its reproductive elements. This work is less distracting and more illustrative when done in graphite rather than in colour.