|E. lysistemon in flower|
Erythrina lysistemon is a species of deciduous tree in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is native to South Africa. Common names include common coral tree, lucky bean tree, umsintsi (Xhosa), muvhale (Venda), mophete (Tswana), kanniedood (Afrikaans), mokhungwane (Sotho) and umsinsi (Zulu). It is regularly cultivated as a tree for gardens and parks.
Common coral tree reaches 30 to 40 ft (9.1 to 12.2 m) in height, with smooth grayish bark, not corky; hooked prickles scattered on trunk and branches; leaves with 3 leaflets, up to 7 in (18 cm) long, petiole and midrib prickly. The tree is leafless for up to 4 or 5 months of the year. The lovely scarlet red flowers are borne in dense racemes in spring before leaves and attract numerous birds and insects to the garden. It is hardy to USDA Zone 9b
Erythrina lysistemon is a very decorative tree but it is also an important component of the ecosystem, providing food and shelter for a variety of birds, animals and insects.
Erythrina lysistemon is also widely used and enjoyed by mankind. They have been regarded as royal trees, and were planted on the graves of Zulu chiefs.
The flowering of the trees has been, and still is, a good signal to the people that it is time to plant their crops.
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- According to Braam van Wyk and Piet van Wyk, who are indigenous tree specialists
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