The dwarf coral tree is an ideal tree or shrub for the small garden,
especially for people who love the scarlet flowers of the common
coral tree (Erythrina lysistemon)
but don't have the space for a large tree. Its small dimensions
make it ideally suited to high density housing complexes where garden
space is limited. It produces an impressive display of scarlet red
flowers en-masse, which are a favourite with many different birds
who enjoy the nectar. Almost as though it was designed for the garden,
the dwarf coral tree produces its flowers just at window height
which allows you to do your bird watching from the comfort of your
Similar to the ploughbreaker (Erythrina zeyheri) and the
tamboekie doring (Erythina acanthocarpa),
the dwarf coral tree can tolerate cold and frost by going into winter
dormancy and simply re-sprouting from the large swollen tuberous
roots as soon as spring arrives.
Plants are easy to propagate from seed or cuttings, and this species
can also be propagated by the use of truncheon cuttings (very large
cuttings). Truncheons are made from part of or even an entire branch
which is planted into a pot filled with sharp sand or even directly
into the soil where the plant is to be grown. This should be done
in spring (September to November in South Africa) for best results.
dwarf coral tree produces a number of stems from the ground up to
approx. 1.2 - 1.5 m high at which point they branches and produce
a mass of scarlet red clusters of flowers on long black stalks making
them ideal for the vase. The flowers are rich in nectar and attract
a variety of birds but are the favourite of the brightly coloured
The dwarf coral tree is easy to grow and is very drought hardy.
It thrives under normal garden conditions providing it gets full
sun and doesn't have wet feet.
Should your garden be in a position where it receives a fair degree
of frost don't despair as the dwarf coral tree can tolerate quite
a bit of frost especially once it has become well established in
your garden. If you do not have frost however, it will not die down
but rather produce the new season's growth from the previous season's
stems. In such situations it may be necessary to prune it hard once
every three or four years.
The dwarf coral tree is deciduous (loses all its leaves and goes
dormant during the winter months). Although it would be ideal to
keep it dry during the winter months it will tolerate light watering
of winter annuals around its feet and as it is leafless it allows
full sun to reach the annuals that you may choose to fill its gap
during the winter months.
The attractive signal red "lucky bean" seeds are produced
in curious knobbly black pods. The seed should be collected as they
are often in short supply. So collect all your seeds and share them
with your friends and local nurseries so that others may also share
in the breathtaking display that the dwarf coral tree will make
in your garden.
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden