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Erythrina fusca - Lour.

Common Name Coral Bean, Swamp Immortelle
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the seed, bark and stems of plants in this genus usually contain alkaloids that are toxic in all but small amounts[ K ].
Habitats A pioneer species, most commonly found on the outer margins of swamps on sites that are not permanently flooded[ 303 ]. Coastal freshwater swamps[ 426 ].
Range S. America - Brazil, Bolivia and Peru, north through Central America to Guatemala and the Caribbean.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Erythrina fusca Coral Bean, Swamp Immortelle

Dick Culbert wikimedia.org
Erythrina fusca Coral Bean, Swamp Immortelle


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Other common names include purple coraltree, gallito, bois immortelle, and bucayo among others. Commonly found in South America, Erythrina fusca or Coral Bean is an easy-to-grow flowering deciduous tree with spiny bark and light orange flowers. Its crown is usually rounded and it grows up to 15 m tall. It is tolerant of flooding and salinity thus can be grown under coastal conditions. Also, it has symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria that forms root nodules and fix atmospheric nitrogen. The young leaves and flowers can be eaten as vegetable. Different plant parts can be used medicinally for beriberi, liver problems, wounds, headaches, malaria, flu, and cough. In particular, bark infusion is used to induce sleep. The wood is used for canoe-making and for carving. It is not suitable for lumber as it is light in weight, moderately soft, and not durable.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Erythrina fusca is a deciduous Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 12 m (39ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Birds.
It can fix Nitrogen.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Corallodendron fuscum (Lour.) Kuntze Corallodendron glaucum (Willd.) Kuntze Corallodendron patens (D


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves
Edible Uses:

Edible portion: Leaves, Flowers, Vegetable. Young leaves - raw in salads or cooked and used as a vegetable[ 301 , 317 , 598 ]. Flowers - cooked and eaten as a vegetable[ 317 , 598 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antirheumatic  Antitussive  Diaphoretic  Febrifuge  Hypnotic  Malaria  Poultice  Purgative  

An infusion of the bark is used in the treatment of liver ailments and to induce sleep[ 739 ]. The bark is used as a poultice on fresh wounds[ 303 ]. The stem bark and root bark are mixed with the stem bark of Parkia pendula to make a cataplasm that is applied to the head to treat violent and persistent headaches[ 348 ]. Bark or root decoctions are used in the treatment of beriberi[ 303 ]. The root is antirheumatic, sudorific and, in large doses, purgative[ 348 , 739 ]. A decoction is used to treat feverish maladies such as malaria and flu[ 348 ]. The flowers are antitussive[ 348 ]. A decoction is used to soothe coughs[ 348 ]. The seed contains the anaesthetic alkaloid erythroidine[ 348 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fencing  Fuel  Hedge  Pioneer  Plant support  Repellent  Soil conditioner  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: Often planted as a shade tree in cocoa and coffee plantations in Central America and less frequently in Southeast Asia[303 , 317 ]. The tree is a pioneer species, germinating in open land and creating the right habitat for forest trees to grow. The feasibility of using it in reforestation projects in the tropics as a nurse tree for other tree species is an alternative that can be explored[303 ]. It has been observed that cocoa trees planted near this species produce more pods than those growing farther away from the shade trees[303 ]. This is attributed to increased litter fall in plantations with this species, which adds to the available amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil[303 ]. The tree is occasionally used in live fences although much less commonly than E. berteroana and other Erythrina species[303 ]. It is also used as a support for black pepper vines and vanilla plants[303 , 317 ]. The tree is planted as a hedge[598 ]. Where rainfall is irregular and sometimes below 1,000 mm per year, this species has been noted to persist in prolonged drought without losing its leaves, recirculating nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium from prunings. It is therefore a promising species for agroforestry systems in such areas where it would be intercropped with maize and cassava[303 ]. Other Uses: The presence of ant-repellent compounds in the nectar has been reported[303 ]. The heartwood is light yellow to yellowish brown. It is light in weight, moderately soft, weak, not durable, and scarcely suitable for lumber. It is used for making canoes and for carving[447 , 598 ]. Farmers occasionally use the dry branches as fuel wood, despite claims that the branches do not burn well and produce a lot of ash. It is used more because it is available rather than because it is preferred[303 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Hedge  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A tropical tree. Succeeds at low to moderate elevations in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate areas[ 200 ]. It can be grown at elevations up to 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 16 - 24°c, but can tolerate 12 - 32°c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 3,500mm[ 418 ]. It seems to prefer littoral locations with badly drained soils, like swamps and stream banks and upland riverine marshes[ 303 ]. In an experiment, it has shown better performance on acid soils of pH 4.3 and aluminium saturation of 80%[ 303 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 4.5 - 6.5, tolerating 4 - 7[ 418 ]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[ 303 ]. Frequently hybridizes with other Erythrina species[ 303 ]. The seeds float in water and at times have been dispersed by ocean currents[ 303 ]. Established trees stand regular pruning very well. They start sprouting rapidly and develop strong shoots[ 303 ]. The tree is managed under a moderate regime of pruning if it is grown as a shade tree for cocoa. The trees are partially pollarded once every 1 - 2 years, leaving a few branches per tree to regulate light influx to the crop[ 303 ]. A 6 month pollarding cycle is used for trees supporting black pepper vines[ 303 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[ 755 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Fresh seeds, and those harvested within 3 - 6 months of maturity, can be sown without any special treatment. Germination rates are generally high and are often 100%. Seeds over 6 months old may take between 12 - 18 months to germinate due to their hard seed coat which becomes tougher with age. Soaking them in hot water, or abrading their seedcoat, can reduce this time considerably. They may be added to water which has just fallen below boiling point and left in the water as it cools for a minimum of one hour, but up to 12 hours for seed 3 years or more old, and then sown in the usual way. Alternatively, file the seeds with a slender triangular file. A groove can be made through the sides of the seed coat with care so as to avoid damaging the cotyledons or embryo, which usually results in the death of the seeds from fungal attack or in malformed and weakened seedlings[ 564 ]. Seeds of most species produce strong seedlings from healthy seeds in almost any well-drained soil, with a minimum of trouble from damping-off disease[ 564 ]. When used as a shade or nurse tree, it is propagated by large cuttings, about 2 metres long and 6 - 10 cm in diameter[ 303 ]. Rooting success is excellent provided soil moisture is close to field capacity[ 303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Acacu, Acuarana, Bucayo, Changkering, Eritrina-da-baixa, Kane, Pizamo tree, Rase, Sanandu, Suina, Swamp immortelle, Tawng lang nam, Thong long, ahuijote, bucago, bucare, coral-bean, eritrina, gallito de pantano, palo santo, purple coraltree, swamp immortelle.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

American Samoa; Australia; Bangladesh; Belize; Bolivia, Plurinational State of; Brazil; Cambodia; Colombia; Comoros; Costa Rica; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; El Salvador; Fiji; French Guiana; Guatemala; Guyana; Honduras; India; Indonesia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Madagascar; Malaysia; Mayotte; Micronesia, Federated States of; Myanmar; New Caledonia; Nicaragua; Palau; Panama; Papua New Guinea; Peru; Philippines; Puerto Rico; Samoa; Solomon Islands; Sri Lanka; Suriname; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tonga; Trinidad and Tobago; Vanuatu; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Viet Nam, Africa, Asia, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Central America, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Africa, Ecuador, Fiji, Guatemala, Guiana, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Jamaica, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pacific, Panama, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, SE Asia, Sri Lanka, South America, Suriname, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

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Erythrina x bidwillii Shrub4.0 7-10  LMHSNM01 
Erythrina zeyheriPrickly CardinalShrub1.0 8-11  LMHSNM01 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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