The Coral Tree is an amazing tropical plant member of the Legume family. It may be spiny or smooth, deciduous or evergreen, with a flower's spectacle in brilliant pink, red or orange hues.
Coral Trees are members of the genus Erythrina and are primarily found in South Africa and South America. There are approximately 112 different species of Erythrina around the world. They are also found in Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, Asia, Australia, and even Hawaii.
A Coral Tree's average height is 35 to 45 feet (10.7 to 13.7 m) tall, but some varieties exceed 60 feet (18.3 m) in height. The leaves have three distinct leaflets, and the stems may have thorns or be smooth, depending on their evolutionary adaptations. The trees have a thick trunk, usually with several smaller trunks joining the main stem. Roots push out of the ground as they age and become a hazard. The bark is a thin grayish brown, and the wood is pithy and weak, prone to breaking in the wind or due to overwatering. Flowers are the standout and appear in late winter. They are outlandish constructions of thick bright pedals standing erect around the corolla. Hummingbirds are highly attracted to the loud colors and striking scents.
Growing Conditions and General 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 tree's weight 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 the root zone with a good organic mulch, which will gradually leach a light dose of nutrients into the soil over time.
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