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Erythrina poeppigiana - (Walp.) O.F.Cook

Common Name Mountain Immortelle. Madre de Cacao
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The seeds are poisonous[447 ]. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the bark and stems of plants in this genus usually contain alkaloids that are toxic in all but small amounts[K ].
Habitats Humid and subhumid tropical lowlands, such as the riverine and upland forests of the Amazon and Orinoco Basins[303 ]. Found in secondary formations, in areas not subject to inundation, favouring deep, fertile, humus-rich, clayey soils[420 ].
Range S. America - Brazil, Bolivia and Peru, north to Panama.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Erythrina poeppigiana Mountain Immortelle. Madre de Cacao

Erythrina poeppigiana Mountain Immortelle. Madre de Cacao
wikimedia.org Veronidae


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Erythrina poeppigiana is a deciduous Tree growing to 25 m (82ft) by 25 m (82ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Birds.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay 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


Erythrina amasisa Spruce Erythrina darienensis Standl. Erythrina micropteryx Poepp. Erythrina pisamo Posado-Arango Micropteryx poeppigiana Walp.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers
Edible Uses:

Flowers - eaten in soups and salads[447 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Agroforestry Uses: The tree is frequently planted as a living fence[317 ]. The tree is commonly planted in plantations such as coffee, pepper and cacao, often in combination with Cordia alliodora[310 ]. It is planted as a shade tree in cacao plantations in the humid tropics, where it conserves soil and contributes to high and sustainable cacao yields[303 , 420 ]. The tree is valued for its high production of green manure and mulch; the ease with which shade can be adjusted to the requirements of the main crop; and its ability to tolerate regular coppicing for many years[310 ]. The green leaves contain 4.1 - 4.9% nitrogen, which makes it an excellent species for green manure production. Production of nitrogen-rich litter is abundant, and the nitrogen supply in litter fall exceeds several times the export of nitrogen in the cacao harvest[303 ]. The nitrogen supplied through pruning residues left on the ground fulfils recommended nitrogen application rates[303 ]. For alley cropping, the tree should be planted in dense hedgerows (1 - 2 metres between trees), with wide alleys (6 - 8 metres) between tree rows. High and sustainable bean yield in the alley-cropping system has been observed[303 ]. In Costa Rica, alley cropping with this species has sustained 2 maize crops per year over 8 years without fertilization[303 ]. Coffee and cacao may also be planted together with the trees[303 ]. Other Uses The whitish to yellowish heartwood is not clearly demarcated from the sapwood. It is thick-textured, straight-grained, light in weight, soft, with poor mechanical properties and of low durability. It is only used for low value items such as crates, pencils, toothpicks and as a raw material for hardboard[310 , 420 , 447 ]. Although the wood is light, with low calorific value, it is sometimes used as a firewood[303 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Alley crop  Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Fodder: Bank  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop

A plant of lowland, humid tropical areas to moderate elevations in the subhumid zone, where it can be cultivated at elevations up to 2,000 metres[303 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 28°c, but can tolerate 16 - 36°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 4,000mm, but tolerates 800 - 4,500mm[418 ]. Requires a sunny position[418 ]. Succeeds in alluvial soils with moderate to deficient drainage[303 ]. Found in the wild in deep, clayey soils[420 ]. Tolerates poor soils[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 7, tolerating 4 - 7.5[303 , 418 ]. The various species of Erythrina can all, as far as is known, be intercrossed to produce fertile hybrids[310 ]. The plant is pollinated by many non-specialized perching or sparrow-like birds. The amount of nectar in the flowers may reach 50 ?g per flower and is so great that insects would visit too few flowers to be effective distributors of the pollen[310 ]. Due to the slow recovery of carbohydrate reserves, pruning the tree more often than twice a year risks the debilitation and turnover of trees within a few years[303 ]. Pruning trees periodically will prevent complete leaf fall, and pruning trees once a year is enough to impede flowering[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 ]. E. Poeppigiana nodulates abundantly with nitrogen-fixing bacteria of the genus Bradyrhizobium. Peak values exceeding 1,000 kg/ha of nodules have been reported for unpruned cacao shade trees[303 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Alley crop  Integrates annual crops with rows of perennials.
  • Agroforestry Services: Crop shade  Plants providing crop shade especially trees.
  • Agroforestry Services: Living fence  Simply managed rows of shrubs and trees.
  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - immersing the seeds in water at room temperature for 24 hours enhances germination. The germination rate is about 70%[303 ]. Seed storage behaviour is orthodox. The seeds may be stored for several years in tightly closed containers in a cool, dry place (about 5?c, 30-40% relative humidity.)[303 ]. Inoculation of seeds or cuttings with Bradyrhizobium bacteria is not generally required in areas where the plant is native or naturalized. However, inoculation is recommended when introducing the species to new areas[303 ]. Air-layering. Roots usually appear after about 6 weeks[303 ]. The leaves must be removed before planting and the top cut made at an angle of 45 degrees and sealed with paraffin[303 ]. Cuttings should be long (over 1.5 metres). Stakes from lower and middle sections of 1 - 2 year-old branches give best results[303 ]. Cuttings are planted at a depth of 30 cm[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Mountain immortal, Pohon dadap popi, Poro,

Andes, Asia, Bolivia, Brazil, Caribbean, Central America, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Indonesia, Nicaragua, North America, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Sao Tome and Principe, SE Asia, South America*, USA, Venezuela, West Indies,

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.

None Known

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.


Expert comment


(Walp.) O.F.Cook

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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