Erythrina humeana. NATAL CORAL TREE. South Africa

LEGUMINOSAE (Pea family)

A small spectacular tree in late summer through fall, a few flowers persisting into winter after leaf drop, growing in White Plaza outside the southeast corner of the Old Union. Each leaf has three spade-shaped leaflets, the whole being about 2 feet long. A few small but nasty thorns will be found on the leaflet midribs and the leafstalks. The hard shiny seeds, which are indigestible, are designed to attract birds, who then aid seed dispersal. The flowers are recognizably pea flowers but are bundled in such a way as to open in sequence. The tree has suffered dieback from freezing temperatures.

Anna's hummingbirds are regular vistors to this beautiful tree.

In addition to recent campus plantings of E. crista-galli, there is also a young specimen of an unidentified Erythrina, possibly a hybrid, with similar but smaller and wickedly thornier leaves, on Lagunita Drive 100 feet west of Braun Music Center. It blooms in spring after leafing out. There are dozens of species and cultivars that are widely used in the tropics.

Illustrations (links open new windows): gallery

Additions/Revisions: The Old Union Natal coral tree, one of our favorite campus trees, was removed by contractors the first week in June, 2007.

Name derivation, genus | species Gk. erythros (red): allusion to flower color |

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