Erythrina crista-galli L.
Cockspur Coral Tree
Erythrina crista-galli var. crista-galli, Corallodendron crista-galli, Erythrina fasciculata, Erythrina laurifolia, Erythrina pulcherrima, Erythrina speciosa, Micropteryx crista-galli, Micropteryx fasciculata, Micropteryx laurifolia
Color: Usually scarlet red
Bloom Time: Spring to summer
Erythrina crista-galli is a small deciduous tree with a somewhat crooked trunk with a dark furrowed bark. It grows up to 26 feet (8 m) tall and about as wide as tall. Leaves are composed of 3 dark green leaflets with curved thorns along the veins on the backside and the petioles. They are up to 6 inches (15 cm) long and 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) wide. Flowers are up to 2 inches (5 cm) long, 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, usually scarlet red but sometimes pink, red-purple, or have white markings. They appear singly or in groups of 2 to 3 in loose, up to 2 feet (60 cm) long terminal racemes from spring to summer. The inflorescences emerge from the current year's growth, and several flushes of flowers can appear, particularly if old flower stalks are pruned off.
USDA hardiness zone 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Growing Coral Trees is only appropriate outdoors in USDA zones 9 and up. Coral Tree care is easy if you are in the correct region, but some growers may find them messy.
Coral Trees need very little water. Too much water promotes a weak limb structure and subsequent breakage. Overwatering causes the tree to grow too quickly, and its softwood cannot support such spurts. Then in the dry season, the weight of the tree can pull it out of the soil.
Pruning the tree in spring to remove the heavier stems or any damaged material will help prevent limb loss and trees from tipping. Fertilizer is also not recommended when growing Coral Trees.
Fertilizer also causes them to have aggressive growth that can cause problems later. Cover over the root zone with a good organic mulch, which will gradually leach a light dose of nutrients into the soil over time.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Coral Trees.
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