Widely grown and best known for its pretty blooms in winter and early spring, Erythrina lysistemon is an indigenous tree that provides year round interest in our gardens and on sidewalks.
One of the showiest trees in the world, the common coral tree is deciduous and grows from 6 – 8m + in height. The trunk is thick with pale green gray grooves and random spiny prickles, and the crown is sparse and spreading. It often branches low down and the bark is dark gray to gray-brown with a smooth texture.
The trees shed their attractive autumn foliage to reveal a bare skeleton before the striking scarlet flowers cover the branches during winter to early spring. The rosette shaped flowers explode into brilliant red and add a subtropical touch through the cool winter months. The form and colour of these flowers are exquisite when used in floral arrangements. In addition, the flowers attract birds and the foliage is often browsed by wildlife.
In October the leaves start budding and during summer this provides useful shade to man and beast. The leaves are trifoliate (compound leaves with three leaflets) and the leaflets are large with a bright, green colour. Seed pods are black and split open while still on the tree to produce bright red ‘lucky bean’ seeds. The seeds are often used to make items of jewelry and are believed to bring luck if carried in your wallet.
The Coral tree is hardy and drought resistant, but has to be protected from frost when young. It has to be noted that the tree has an aggressive root system and should be planted well away from pools or walls.
The Erythrina lysistemon shows definitive seasonality in its foliage, flowers and seeds and heralds in spring with a blaze of colour.