Erythrina lysistemon

Common Coral Tree, Lucky Bean Tree

Erythrina lysistemon

Erythrina Lysistemon, the Common Coral Tree, is deciduous, but it has the delightful habit of covering its knobbly bare branches with scarlet red flowers in the middle of winter. After a spectacular display that comes to an end somewhere in October, the leaflets start sprouting in neat trios on slender stems, making it a useful shade tree for the summer.

The trunk is thick, the side branches short and thorny, and the tree generally grows to a height of 6 to 8 m. The crown is sparse and spreading. The flowers are rich in nectar and attract a variety of insects, which in turn lures the insectivorous birds. The seed pods are black and burst open while still attached to the tree, exposing bright red seeds that contain toxic alkaloids.

It has an aggressive root system so must be planted at least 5 m away from structures and boundary walls. Plant coral trees at the back of a shrubbery, in a large rock and gravel garden between winter-blooming aloes, or as a specimen in a lawn.
When do they Bloom?
Coral Trees flower from July to October.
Most Suitable Climate
Erythrina Lysistemon is suitable for temperate to subtropical climates (summer and winter rainfall regions). It is sensitive to cold and heavy frost.
What they Need
Location: full sun.
Soil: well-drained, loamy or sandy soil.
Water: medium to low water consumption; doesn’t like lots of water in winter.
Fertilizing: compost in the planting hole and as a mulch around young trees is sufficient.
Watch out for this
Small wasps sometimes lay their eggs underneath the leaves and make them look ‘warty’, but this doesn’t harm the tree. Branches that fall off are usually caused by wood-boring insects. Simply cut away the damaged area down to the healthy wood, and burn what you have cut off.
In a Nutshell
* Easy grower.
* Water-wise tree.
* Beautiful flowers in winter.

The Gardener