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Erythrina verna - Vell.

Common Name Mulungu
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rainforest and broadleaved, semideciduous forests where it is most commonly found in open areas and secondary growth; favouring drier areas[ 419 ].
Range S. America - eastern and southern Brazil, Bolivia.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Erythrina verna Mulungu

João Medeiros wikimedia.org
Erythrina verna Mulungu
João Medeiros wikimedia.org


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Erythrina verna is a spiny, deciduous shrub or tree growing about 20 m in height with a low, open crown. The trunk can be multi-stemmed and in 40-70 cm in diameter. It can be found in South America particularly in eastern and southern part of Brazil and in Bolivia. It has symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria that forms root nodules and fix atmospheric nitrogen. The bark can be used as a natural sedative to calm agitation and nervous coughs. It can also be used in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, and other nervous system-related conditions. Asthma, bronchitis, gingivitis, hepatitis, inflammation of the liver and spleen, intermittent fevers, and epilepsy are some of the other ailments that can also be treated using the bark of E. verna. The tree is fast-growing and used in reforestation schemes and as a shade tree on cocoa plantations. The wood is light in weight and not durable - it is only used for boxes and paper pulp.

Physical Characteristics

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

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Corallodendron mulungu (Mart. ex Benth.) Kuntze Erythrina flammea Herzog Erythrina mulungu Mart. ex

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None Known.

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.
Antidepressant  Antiinflammatory  Antispasmodic  Antitussive  Cardiac  Carminative  Epilepsy  Febrifuge  
Narcotic  Sedative  Urinary

The bark of the tree has long been used for medicinal purposes by indigenous peoples in Brazil, especially as a natural sedative. It has been used to calm an overexcited nervous system and promote restful sleep[ 318 ]. The active compounds in the tree have been studied extensively; they have been found to comprise large amounts of novel flavonoids, triterpenes, and alkaloids[ 318 , 739 ]. Twenty isoquinoline alkaloids have been documented for this tree. Many of these have demonstrated anti-inflammatory, cardioactive, narcotic, and sedative activities. One of these alkaloids, 'cristamidine' has been shown to have a positive effect on the liver[ 318 ]. Other alkaloids have shown hypotensive and heart-regulatory activities[ 318 ]. The alkaloid 'erysodine' has been documented with neuromuscular effects characteristic of curare arrow poisons. Two studies also indicate that it might be useful as an anti-nicotine drug, as it demonstrated actions as a competitive antagonist and to block nicotine receptors[ 318 ]. The traditional use of the plant to relieve anxiety and stress has been validated by researchers in a 2002 study, where it was shown that a water-alcohol extract of the plant altered anxiety-related responses. The effect was similar to the commonly-prescribed anti-anxiety drug diazepam[ 318 ]. It was suggested in this study that the alkaloids in Erythrina 'may alter GABAergic neurotransmission.' GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain; abnormalities with its function is implicated in diseases including epilepsy, anxiety, and depression[ 318 ]. Further research has validated the traditional use of the plant as an antimicrobial agent for throat and urinary infections, it had demonstrated antibacterial activity in two studies against Staphylococcus aureus, and antimycobacterial activity against Mycobacterium fortuitum and Mycobacterium smegmatis[ 318 ]. Positive regulatory effects on heart palpitations and decreased blood pressure have been reported[ 318 ]. The bark is antispasmodic, antitussive, calmative and narcotic[ 739 ]. It is considered to be an excellent sedative to calm agitation and nervous coughs and to treat other nervous system problems, including insomnia and anxiety. It also is widely used in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, gingivitis, hepatitis, inflammation of the liver and spleen, intermittent fevers, and to clear obstructions in the liver. It is also used in some areas as part of the treatment for epilepsy[ 318 ]. It is also used to quiet hysteria from trauma or shock, as a mild, hypnotic sedative to calm the nervous system, to treat insomnia and promote healthy sleeping patterns (by sedating overactive neurotransmitters), to regulate heart palpitations, and to treat hepatitis and liver disorders.; Dr Donna Schwontkowski, a chiropractor who has used Amazonian plants in her practice, recommends the bark for treating hernias, stomachaches, and epilepsy - and to help augment milk flow as well[ 318 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Paper  Pioneer  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: Used as a shade-providing tree in cocoa plantations[ 419 ]. A pioneer species, growing fairly fast, attracting the native fauna and fixing atmospheric nitrogen. It can be used in reforestation schemes for restoring native woodland[ 419 ]. Other Uses: The wood is light in weight, smooth, having 68% of fibres when dry, of low durability when exposed to moisture. It is only used for low value items such as boxes and for paper pulp[ 419 ]. Ornamental.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

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

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a partially shaded position in individual containers. A high germination rate can usually be expected from fresh seed, with the seed sprouting within 10 - 20 days[ 419 ]. The seedlings develop quickly and they should be ready to plant out less than 4 months later[]. Like many species within the family Fabaceae, once they have been dried for storage the seeds of this species may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing[ K ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here


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Found In

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


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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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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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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