Erythrina Crista-Galli is a flowering tree, which is also commonly known as cockspur coral tree and Cry baby tree.
Erythrina crista-galli (Fabaceae) is also known as cockspur coral tree, cockscomb coral tree, cry-baby tree and fireman’s cap tree. It has a number of synonyms such as, Corallodendron crista-galli, Erythrina fasciculata, Erythrina laurifolia and Erythrina pulcherrima, etc.
It is a deciduous shrub which can reach up to 3meter height and has trifoliate leaves. Flowers of it are national flowers of Argentina and Uruguay.
Erythrina crista-galli is native to Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and South Brazil. The word Crista-galli comes from a Latin word which means “cock’s comb”. Their fruits or pods contains several seeds which are brown to black in colour. The large and healthy seeds are used for propagation.
Erythrina crista-galli Description
Erythrina crista-galli is a small tree that it grows up to 5-8 m tall and 50 cm in diameter. The tree is woody with irregular and spiny branches. The flowers are red in colour, pea-shape and appears in summer. They are arranged in inflorescences at the tips of branches. Each inflorescence carry 20-40 flowers. The largest petal arrange in the lower part and is called “standard petal”. However, the other two of the petals are so small and hidden within the calyx and is called “wings”. The remaining two petals partially fuse together to form the flower’s keel. The flower keel is also called carina. The flowers have slight fragrance, therefore they attract insects for pollination. After the flowers wilt, fruits appears.
The fruit is a legume or pod which is a few centimeter in length and blackish in colour as a tree mature. Each fruit contain about 8-10 seeds. The seeds are hard, brown or blackish in colour and bean-shape.
Erythrina crista-galli Cultivation
Erythrina crista-galli generally grows wild in gallery forest along watercourses and wetlands. However, in urban areas, it is planted in gardens and parks. It is highly appreciated for its bright red flowers. It survive in USDA hardiness zones of 9 to 11.
Propagation of Erythrina crista-galli through Seeds
Erythrina crista-galli can be easily propagated through seeds. The pods and seeds are carried through flood waters into wetlands and creeks where they germinate. The seeds are also germinate in artificial environment in gardens and nurseries by providing suitable conditions.
Erythrina crista-galli Seeds Germination
Erythrina crista-galli seeds are collected from a mature tree. Always, healthy and disease free seeds are selected and soak in water for 24 hours. After these seeds swells up, they are sown in normal substrate soil by covering them under a thin layer of soil in a pot. Then the pot is covered by a plastic bag. Spraying of water with the universal fertilizer should be provided to the plant. Too much watering should not be good as the pot is covered and there is no moisture evaporation. The optimum temperature of culture should be maintain between 20-23˚C. The seedlings germinate within 5 to 20 days depending upon the nature of the seeds.
Transplantation of Erythrina crista-galli Seedlings
Erythrina crista-galli seedlings are transplanted when become large enough and cannot handle in a small pot. Then these seedlings are carried out and placed in a sheltered sunny site. The transplantation should be done in summer or spring. The optimum temperature for transplanting seedlings should not below than 15˚C. The roots of the plant should be protect from frost by mulching or keeping it inside a greenhouse. The plant take 2-3 years for blooming flowers.
Propagation of Erythrina crista-galli through Cutting
Erythrina crista-galli can be propagated through cuttings as well. Cutting is thought to be a good choice as it resemble to its parent plant while germination through seeds shows variation. Quite larger cuttings (up to 1 foot) should be taken from a mature plant. These cuttings are taken at any time of the year. Score the bark of the cutting near the cut end that will be underground. The plant should be provided with enough water and sunlight.