Erythrina crista-galli: Coral tree


Family: Fabaceae
Common name: Cockspur coral tree, Coral tree, Coral bush, Ceibo

For an unassuming, simple tree, the Coral tree has the most astonishing-looking crab-claw-like red flowers. The name Crista-galli means ‘cock’s comb’, a very apt name for this tree. It can grow to a height of 5-8 meters, with a thick trunk and uniformly radiating branches that contain backward bending thorns.

Coral tree is the national tree of Argentina and the flowers are national flowers of Argentina and Uruguay. The trees look pretty standard till they burst out into magnificent flowers in summer, the red colored crab claws filling the tree with exuberance.

The flowers have 5 petals, the largest petal called ‘standard’ giving the flower it’s unique shape. It’s very long, boat-shaped and holds all the other petals, stamens and style inside. The remaining petals are small and fused together. The flowers then form legume-like fruits, with a long pod having 8-10 seeds in each.

Coral tree flowers are rich in nectar, attracting pollinating insects, that literally crawl inside of the flower to collect nectar, thereby pollinating it.

Propagation is from seeds or stem cuttings.

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