If you have a garden with enough space to have a Common Coral Tree, then I must admit that I am very envious of you. Coral Trees have some of the most beautiful flowers on a tree and they certainly make stunning additions to a garden.
The Common Coral Tree (Erythrina lysistemon) grows to a height of around 6 metres and has a similar spread. The tree sheds its leaves over winter and then, as spring approaches, the flowers appear before the new set of leaves. The flowers are a coral red colour which gives an indication of how the tree got its name. When in flower the tree gets lots of attention from birds and insects. They are particularly popular with sunbirds who feed on the nectar. Other species also feed on the nectar and others still eat the seeds which are red in colour with a black stripe. They are often referred to as “lucky beans.”
Coral Trees are good garden specimens if you have the space. They are quick growing and can be grown for seed or from cuttings taken from the hardwood sections of the tree. There are two things to consider before planting one of these trees. Firstly, they are covered in thorns and secondly, they have an aggressive root system. They should be planted in a sunny position in well-drained soil. When planting the tree lots of compost should be provided.
Where can the Common Coral Tree be grown?
Although this tree originates from the coastal regions of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, it will survive various conditions and can be grown in the Western Cape. It may be drought-resistant, but it will not tolerate heavy frost.
Various parts of the Common Coral Tree are used to treat a wide variety of ailments. These include toothache, earache, relieve inflammation and to clear maggots from wounds. The wood from the trunk of a tree is sometimes used to make a canoe.