The Coral Tree: A South American Queen in Australia

by | Dec 14, 2018 | Explorer Blog | 0 comments

Ceibo flower red with pink

On the walk last week I discovered a Cockspur coral tree (Erythrina crista-galli) on the edge of the creek close to my home. I live near subtropical rainforest on the East Coast Australia, and I can easily spot the coral tree in amongst the gumtrees and banksias when it flowers, which is from spring to early autumn.

When in bloom, the tree is a spectacular sight. From a distance, the tree seems on fire, its branches alight with hundreds of tiny flames. Often I have seen birds hovering around the scarlet flowers, attracted by their colour and nectar. In the winter months, the tree is inconspicuous, for it is bare-naked, its thorny limbs leafless.

It may surprise you to learn that this deciduous shrub is not an Australian native, but originates from Argentina, Uruguay, Southern Brazil and Paraguay. It was introduced to Australia as an ornamental. Occasionally, I encounter an old planting when exploring historical places.