The charming “coral tree”
Erythrina Caffra, best known as “coral tree”, is a medium-sized to large deciduous tree, widely loved for its warm red to scarlet-coloured flowers, which appear from the cold winter months up to spring. Its popularity can be ascribed to its ease of cultivation and long flowering period. The coastal coral tree is an ideal garden plant and, because of its unique appearance, has continued to draw the interest of botanists, horticulturist, nature lovers, and the general gardening public for many decades. The fruits are dark, cylindrical pods, which are up to 65 mm long. The pods split to release the small, shiny, coral-red seeds, which are marked on the one side with black spots. As seeds weather and become older, they turn a rich red-brown.
This species forms a round-headed, spreading canopy and has a beautifully light green appearance when in leaf. Trees may even reach a height of 20 m in coastal and forested regions where the conditions are optimal.
The generic name Erythrina originates from the Greek word erythros which means red and alludes to the bright red flowers and seeds. “Caffra” is derived from the Arabic word for an unbeliever, and as used in older botanical works generally indicates that the plant was found well to the south of the range of Arab traders.