Erythrina variegata (Indian Coral Tree)

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Scientific Name

Erythrina variegata L.

Common Names

Indian Coral Tree, Tiger’s Claw, Sunshine Tree, Lenten Tree

Synonyms

Erythrina alba, Erythrina indica, Erythrina lithosperma, Erythrina lobulata, Erythrina loueiri, Gelala alba

Scientific Classification

Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Phaseoleae
Genus: Erythrina

Flower

Color: Bright crimson
Bloom Time: Late winter or early spring

Description

Erythrina variegata is a thorny, deciduous tree up to 90 feet (27 m) tall. It has many stout branches that are armed with black tiger’s claw spines. The leaves are compound, with 3 diamond shaped leaflets, up to 8 inches (20 cm) long. Before the leaves come out in late winter or early spring, it puts on a spectacular show with bright crimson flowers up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long in dense terminal clusters. It may flower a little during the summer, too. The beanlike pods that follow the flowers are cylindrical, about 15 inches (37.5 cm) long.

Photo via flickriver.com

Hardiness

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 soft wood 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 soil over time… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Coral Trees

Origin

Native to the tropical and subtropical regions of eastern Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, northern Australia, and the islands of the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean east to Fiji.

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