Erythrina ×sykesii Barneby & Krukoff

Common Coral Tree

Deciduous, moderately open tree to 15 m or more tall, the trunks with large thorns. New shoots hairy at first, with broad-based prickles to 1 cm long. Leaves softly brown-hairy at first; stipules to 1 cm long, soon shed. Leaflets each about 10-20 cm long, ovate to deltoid, with an elongated tip, prominent glands at the base of each. Flowers axillary, gathered towards the tips of the branches when young. Sepals 2- lipped or shortly toothed, not densely hairy. Flowers with standard scarlet, 5-6 cm long, 2 cm wide, wings and keel about half length of standard, about 2.5 cm long, orange, often, pale; filaments mauve; end of winter to early summer. Fruit not formed (sterile hybrid).

The uniformity of flower structure indicates that this is a hybrid clone from a single cross.

Probably the most commonly planted Erythrina in Australia, the name commemorates W.R. Sykes, horticultural taxonomist a the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Christchurch, New Zealand.

This is a sterile hybrid that probably originated in Australia with the likely parents E. coralloides Hutch. from the S USA and Mexico and E. lysistemon DC. from southern Africa. It is widely planted along the E coast of Australia, often quite near the sea, especially in the Nowra District of NSWb ut also in Qld, New Zealand, Lord Howe Island and as far south as Melbourne (although not suited to the Canberra climate). Formerly known in temperate Australia under several incorrect or misapplied names, including: E. corallodendron L., Coral-pea Tree, a small tree from the WIndies that has been widely misidentified; E. indica Lam., a synonym of E. variegata L. from the Philippines, Indonesia and N Australia which is characterised by large pods 15-30 cm long with prominent veins and slightly constricted between the seeds, although the variety in Australia has pods as small as 8 cm long; E. velutina Willd., from S America and the Caribbean, which has blunt leaflets and velvety seed pods and is unknown in cultivation in Australia; and E. hybrida which is a name of no botanical standing. In New Zealand, where it is naturalised in milder areas of the N Island and is also used for soil conservation, it was for many years known incorrectly as E. indica.

Garden origin.


A large tree with smooth bark, but scattered thorns; flowers mostly orange-red; keel rounded at the tip and one third to half the length of the standard; no fruit formed.

VIC: Burnley (College, 22 m in 1989, ptd c. 1900); Caulfield (Park); Mallacoota (street tree); Malvern (Public Gds); Melbourne (City, NE corner of Princes Bridge); S Melbourne (St Vincent Gds). NSW: Redfern (Park); Sydney (Centennial Park, Royal Bot. Gds).

Source: Spencer, R. (2002). Fabaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 3. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 2. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Fabales
family       Fabaceae
genus        Erythrina L.