Erythrina variegata L.
Indian Coral Tree, Tiger's Claw, Sunshine Tree, Lenten Tree
Erythrina alba, Erythrina indica, Erythrina lithosperma, Erythrina lobulata, Erythrina loueiri, Gelala alba
Color: Bright crimson
Bloom Time: Late winter or early spring
Erythrina variegata is a thorny deciduous tree that grows up to 90 feet (27 m) tall. It has many stout branches armed with black tiger's claw spines. Leaves are compound, up to 8 inches (20 cm) long, with three diamond-shaped leaflets. Before the leaves come out in late winter or early spring, it puts on a spectacular show with bright crimson, up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long flowers in dense terminal clusters. It may flower a little during the summer, too. The beanlike pods that follow the flowers are cylindrical and about 15 inches (37.5 cm) long.
USDA hardiness zone 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °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 actually 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 actually 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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