Erythrina caffra (Coastal Coral Tree)
Species: E. caffra
Binomial name: Erythrina caffra
Common name: Coastal Coral Tree, Cape kafferboom, Kafferboom tree
Erythrina caffra, the Coast Coral Tree is a large, thorny semi-evergreen broad-spreading tree up to 20+ metres tall and is a native to coastal forests and streams of the Eastern Cape region of South Africa where is often cultivated for a light soft wood used for fence posts or shingles.
The new branches of the Erythrina caffra have small, sharp thorns similar to those of a rosebush. As the branches age and grow these thorns wear off. The leaves are trifoliate with three separate leaflets.
In summer it develops orange-scarlet flowers which have widely separated (gaping) petals and conspicuous exerted stamens.
The pods are long and slender with several bright coral red seeds which in South Africa are used for necklaces and other ornaments. The seed pods of this species of coral tree have a curious form that seems to be connected to the branch at both ends.
The tree in the photograph below is a Notable tree Reg No 147 Lat 39 03'43.02" S 174 05'01.50" E Photographed December
Rogan St New Plymouth
-39.06197409285551 / 174.08356189727783
This is the third largest Coastal Coral Tree in NZ
A bronze plaque at the foot of the tree reads: 'Coral Tree - Erythrina caffra. This tree was planted by Robert Snell about 1871 near the site of Fort Cameron a military blockhouse guarding the town'. Born in 1833, Robert Snell emigrated from Devon England in 1858. He established a butchers shop and grew vegetables on nearby farmland to supply soldiers at Marsland Hill and his shop. He was a member of the Provincial Council 1866 to 1868 and died in 1908'.
Documented as 'the largest recorded' in New Zealand in S. W. Burstall's (unpublished) menusuration report no. 19, October 1973. Two other much larger trees recorded at the time where incorrectly named as E. phlebocarpa. These are located at Mansion House, Kawau Island and Old Government House, University of Auckland ACR/0581