Fabaceae (pea family) Erythrina

Erythrina coralloides naked coral tree

Erythrina coralloides ‘Bicolor’ in the Oregon Courtyard of the Outer Quad. Sairus Patel, 28 May 2020

Dramatic cone-shaped inflorescences, fire-engine red, thrust up from the tips of branches in late May before the leaves have emerged. The elongated individual flowers, arranged around a central axis, attract Anna’s hummingbirds. Trunks have a mustardy-orange cast; prickles curve out of the branches and even appear on the stalks of the trifoliate leaves. A vigorous specimen with multiple thick trunks grows on the traffic island on Lagunita Drive just west of Braun Music Center. Another, much more spindly, is south of the Post Office, near O’Connor Lane.

Cultivar ‘Bicolor’ has red flower clusters, white flower clusters, and a mix on the same tree. The specimen in the Oregon Courtyard of the Outer Quad (Language Corner) was planted in 2005. Others planted at the same time at the Humanities Center (Kingscote Garden side) and the old Grounds Nursery did not survive. Nomenclature note: E. coralloides now seems to be a synonym of E. americana, which in the past was called out as explicitly not being the same as E. coralloides. We are investigating.

Name derivation: Erythrina – Gk. erythros (red), allusion to flower color; coralloides – Gk. resembling coral.

About this Entry: John Rawlings added the initial entry. Sairus Patel rewrote it, adding the Braun and Post Office locations (Jun 2023).