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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Erythrina caffra - Coral Tree

The Coral Tree is a medium sized deciduous (Semi-evergreen) tree growing in a rounded spreading habit to 30-35' tall and wide. Typically looses its foliage mid winter. Damaged by cold weather. 



Leaves are alternate, trifoliate, each leaflet dark green, rhomboid to ovate shaped, with a somewhat elongated tip. The base can be more flattened resulting in a deltoid shape. Leaflets 2-5" long, laterals smaller that the terminal. Prickles (sometimes called thorns) along the mid vein.



Stems are stout, green when young, and usually covered with shape prickles, usually dark colored. Leaves can be clustered at the tips appearing whorled.





Flowers are beautiful and very tropical looking. They are orange - scarlet red, 2" long, about 1" wide and borne in a 1' long panicle.



Fruit is a pod with constrictions between the bright red seeds. I have not seen them set fruit here, these pictures were taken in SLO.





Older stems and bark is pretty cool. Often multi stemmed, light tan color with shallow ridges.



A variegated species, seen in warm climates only.



Misidentification:
Could be E. crus-galli the cockspur coral tree, but they have narrow trifoliate leaves. You can see one of these at city hall or in the Salvia garden at Cabrillo.

Location:
Santa Cruz
Floral Park  - Pleasure Point - 3 trees
3020 Pleasure Point Dr.
115 Toledo - very large specimen

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