Cockspur Coral Tree
New Zealand Status: Introduced
Conservation Status: Naturalised
Erythrina crista-galli is a flowering, deciduous, shrub or small tree that grows to about 6m high by 2m wide. The trunk and branches have small prickles. Leaves are alternate, compound pinnate, dark green, with each leaf having three elliptic leaflets 30-60mm long and 20-50mm wide.
Flowering occurs in spring and summer as loose terminal drooping racemes, up to about 600mm long, with 20-40 scarlet red pea flowers that are rich in nectar and attract many bird species.
Flowers are followed by seed pods 75-200mm which ripen to brown, slightly constricted between the seeds. The redish brown seeds are poisonous if ingested.
Erythrina crista-galli prefers moderately fertile, moist, well-drained soil in full sun. It cannot grow in the shade. It is most often naturalised along waterways, in swamps and wetlands, and in urban bushland, and is potentially a weed of waterways and floodplain areas.
© Geografpix Photography, Steve Reader