About 130, see text
Erythrina flabelliformis - MHNT
Erythrina /ˌɛrɪˈθraɪnə/ is a genus of flowering plants in
the pea family, Fabaceae. It contains about 130 species, which are
distributed in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. They are
trees, growing up to 30 m (98 ft) in height. The generic
name is derived from the Greek word ερυθρóς (erythros), meaning
"red," referring to the flower color of certain species.
2 Description and ecology
3 Use by humans
4 Selected species
4.1 Formerly placed here
5 Legal status
5.1 United States
6 See also
8 External links
Particularly in horticulture, the name coral tree is used as a
collective term for these plants.
Flame tree is another vernacular
name, but may refer to a number of unrelated plants as well. Many
Erythrina have bright red flowers, and this may be the
origin of the common name. However, the growth of the branches can
resemble the shape of sea coral rather than the color of Corallium
rubrum specifically, and this is an alternative source for the name.
Other popular names, usually local and particular to distinct species,
liken the flowers' red hues to those of a male chicken's wattles,
and/or the flower shape to its leg spurs. Commonly seen Spanish names
for any local species are bucaré, frejolillo or porotillo, and in
Afrikaans some are called kafferboom(from the species name Erythrina
caffra). Mullumurikku is a widespread name in Kerala.
Description and ecology
Asian pied starling
Asian pied starling (Gracupica contra) feeding on Indian coral tree
(E. variegata) flowers in Kolkata, India.
Not all species of
Erythrina have bright red flowers; the
sandwicensis) has extraordinary variation in its flower colour, with
orange, yellow, salmon, green and white all being found within natural
populations. This striking color polymorphism is also found in
Erythrina lysistemon and
All species except the sterile hybrids E. × sykesii and E. ×
bidwillii have legume-type fruit, sometimes called pods, containing
one or more seeds. The resilient buoyant seeds are often carried by
the sea for large distances and are commonly called "sea beans".
Erythrina leaves are used as food plants by the larvae of some
Lepidoptera species including the swift moth
Endoclita damor and the
Hypercompe eridanus and Hypercompe icasia. The mite
Tydeus munsteri is a pest on the coastal coral tree (E. caffra).
Many birds visit the nectar-rich
Erythrina flowers. In the Neotropics,
these are usually larger hummingbirds, for example the swallow-tailed
hummingbird (Eupetomena macroura) and the black-throated
(Anthracothorax nigricollis) and green-breasted mangos (A. prevostii)
– though they seem not to be especially fond of E. speciosa at
least, which they visit rather opportunistically. In Southeast Asia,
the black drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus) which usually does not eat
nectar in quantity has been observed feeding on E. suberosa flowers,
and mynas and of course more specialized nectar feeders also utilize
coral tree flowers. Lorikeets such as the collared lory (Phigys
solitarius) and the possibly extinct New Caledonian lorikeet
(Charmosyna diadema) are known to consume (or have consumed) large
Use by humans
Some coral trees are used widely in the tropics and subtropics as
street and park trees, especially in drier areas. In some places, such
as Venezuela, bucarés are used as shade trees for coffee or cocoa
crops. In the
Bengal region, they are used for the same purpose in
Schumannianthus dichotoma plantations. E. lanceolata in particular is
considered highly suitable as "frame" tree for vanilla vines to grow
The conspicuous, even dramatic coral trees are widely used as floral
emblems. cockspur coral tree (E. crista-galli) is the national flower
Argentina and Uruguay. The coastal coral tree (E. caffra) is the
official city tree of Los Angeles, California, where it is referred to
simply as the "coral tree". The state trees of Mérida and Trujillo
Venezuela are bucaré ceibo (E. poeppigiana) and purple coral tree
(bucaré anauco, E. fusca), respectively.
Yonabaru, Okinawa as well as
Okinawa Prefecture and
Pathum Thani Province have the Indian coral
tree (E. variegata) as floral emblems. Known as thong lang in
Thailand, the latter species is also one of the thong ("trees")
referred to in the name of Amphoe Chom Thong, Chiang Mai Province. In
a similar vein,
Mexico derives its name from Nahuatl
tzompahuacá, "place of the
Erythrina americana". In Vietnam, people
use the leaves of E. variegata to wrap nem (a kind of fermented pork).
In Hinduism, the mandara tree in Indra's garden in
Svarga is held to
be E. stricta. The same motif is found in Tibetan Buddhism, where the
man da ra ba growing in
Sukhavati is identified as an Indian coral
tree (E. variegata). The concept of the
Five Trees of
Paradise is also
found in Christian Gnosticism. Though as none of the trees is
identified as an
Erythrina here, the concept might not be as directly
related to the Asian religions as some presume.
Erythravine is tetrahydroisoquinoline alkaloid from
studied for possible anxiolytic properties.
The seeds of at least one-third of the species contain potent
erythrina alkaloids, and some of these are used for medicinal and
other purposes by indigenous peoples. They are all
toxic to some degree, however, and the seeds of some can cause fatal
poisoning. The chemical compounds found in plants in
this genus include alkaloids such as scoulerine, erysodin, erysovin
(namely in E. flabelliformis), and the putative anxiolytic erythravine
(isolated from Mulungu, E. mulungu).
Erythrina abyssinica in flower,
Erythrina speciosa inflorescences, Brazil
Erythrina zeyheri leaflets
Erythrina ×sykesii in flower, Auckland, New Zealand
Erythrina species 'Croftby', Australia
Lam. ex DC. (East Africa)
Erythrina americana Mill. – Colorín, Tzompāmitl (Mexico)
Erythrina ankaranensis Du Puy & Labat (Madagascar)
Erythrina atitlanensis Krukoff & Barneby
Erythrina berteroana Urb.
Erythrina burana Chiov. (Ethiopia)
Erythrina caffra Thunb. – Coastal coral tree (Southeastern Africa)
Erythrina corallodendron L. (Hispaniola, Jamaica)
Erythrina coralloides D.C. – Flame coral tree, naked coral tree
Arizona in the United States, Mexico)
Erythrina crista-galli L. – Cockspur coral tree, ceibo, seíbo,
bucaré (Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay)
Erythrina decora Harms
Erythrina edulis Micheli – Basul (Andes)
Erythrina eggersii Krukoff & Moldenke – Cock's-spur, espuela de
gallo, piñón espinoso (
United States Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico)
Erythrina elenae Howard & Briggs (Cuba)
Erythrina euodiphylla Hassk. ex Backh. (Indonesia)
Erythrina falcata Benth. – Brazilian coral tree (Brazil)
Erythrina flabelliformis Kearney
Erythrina fusca Lour. – Purple coral tree, bois immortelle, bucaré
anauco, bucayo, gallito (Pantropical)
Erythrina haerdii Verdc. (Tanzania)
Erythrina hazomboay Du Puy & Labat (Madagascar)
Erythrina herbacea L. –
Coral bean, Cherokee bean, red cardinal,
cardinal spear (Southeastern United States, Northeastern Mexico)
Erythrina humeana Spreng. – Natal coral tree, dwarf coral tree,
dwarf kaffirboom, dwarf erythrina (South Africa)
Erythrina lanceolata Standl.
Erythrina latissima E.Mey.
Erythrina lysistemon Hutch. – Common coral tree, Transvaal
kaffirboom, lucky bean tree (South Africa)
Erythrina madagascariensis Du Puy & Labat (Madagascar)
Erythrina megistophylla (Ecuador)
Erythrina mexicana (Mexico)
Erythrina mulungu Diels Mart. – Mulungu (Brazil)
Erythrina perrieri R.Viguier (Madagascar)
Erythrina poeppigiana (Walp.) O.F.Cook – bucare ceibo
Erythrina polychaeta Harms (Ecuador)
Erythrina rubrinervia Kunth
Erythrina sacleuxii Hua (Kenya, Tanzania)
Erythrina sandwicensis O.Deg. –
Erythrina schimpffii Diels (Ecuador)
Erythrina schliebenii Harms – Lake Latumba
Erythrina (Thought to be
extinct since 1938, but some individuals, believed to be less than
fifty, were recently rediscovered in forest remnants on rocky sites in
Tanzania (reported in the UK Guardian newspaper 23 March 2012,
from a report in the Journal of East African Natural History.)
Erythrina senegalensis DC.
Erythrina speciosa Andrews (Brazil)
Erythrina stricta Roxb. – Mandara (Southeast Asia)
Erythrina suberosa Roxb.
Erythrina tahitensis Nadeaud (Tahiti)
Erythrina tuxtlana Krukoff & Barneby (Mexico)
Erythrina variegata L. – Indian coral tree, tiger's claw, sunshine
tree, roluos tree (Cambodia), deigo (Okinawa), drala (Fiji), madar
(Bangladesh), man da ra ba (Tibet), thong lang (Thailand), vông nem
Erythrina velutina Willd. (Caribbean, South America, Galápagos
Erythrina vespertilio Benth. – Bat's wing coral tree, grey corkwood,
"bean tree" (Australia)
Erythrina zeyheri Harv. – Ploughbreaker
Erythrina ×bidwillii Lindl.
Erythrina ×sykesii Barneby & Krukoff
Formerly placed here
Butea monosperma (Lam.) Taub. (as E. monosperma Lam.)
Piscidia piscipula (L.) Sarg (as E. piscipula L.)
Except for ornamental purposes, growing, selling or possessing
Erythrina spp. is prohibited by
Louisiana State Act 159 (where the
genus is misspelled Erythina).
Victor A. Reko
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Erythrina.
Wikispecies has information related to Erythrina
Erythrina L". TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved
Erythrina L". Germplasm Resources Information Network.
United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-04-01. Archived from the
original on 2009-05-06. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
^ Gledhill, D. (2008). The Names of Plants (4th ed.). Cambridge
University Press. p. 157. ISBN 978-0-521-86645-3.
^ Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation, Board on Science and
Technology for International Development, Commission on International
Relations, National Research Council (1979). Tropical Legumes:
Resources for the Future. National Academy of Sciences.
^ "Zompantle o colorín (
Erythrina americana Miller)". Tratado de
Medicina Tradicional Mexicana Tomo II: Bases Teóricas, Clínica Y
Terapéutica. Tlahui (20). 2005. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
^ Karttunen, Frances (1992). An Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl.
University of Oklahoma Press. p. 316.
Species Records of Erythrina". Germplasm Resources Information
United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the
original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
List of species of
Erythrina from LegumeWeb
Photo gallery - coral tree (
University of Florida−UF Featured Creatures: Moths of Erythrina
plants — from the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.