T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Erythrina x sykesii (Australian Coral Tree)

Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Rosids
Order:Fabales
Family:Fabaceae (Pea family)
Subfamily:Faboideae
Tribe:Phaseoleae
Genus:Erythrina
Scientific name : Erythrina x sykesii
Common Name: Australian coral tree

Erythrina x sykesii (Australian Coral Tree) - A medium to large semi-deciduous tree with spreading form to 12-18 m high; tall by as wide. It likes the wet soils along creeks but also can adapt to dry areas. The bright red flowers are through spring to September, noticeable while the tree is deciduous in late winter to early spring. As it is a hybrid it does not produce seed like many other Coral Trees but spreads vegetatively.
The name "sykesii" honors William Sykes, a New Zealand botanist, who first called attention to trees growing in parks and planting in the North Island of New Zealand. Mr. Sykes recognized that the trees were not Erythrina variegata, as they were presumed to be.
In some areas it is a problem because it spreads readily vegetatively. Logs, branches and even twigs readily regrow. The species also coppices and suckers. The wood is very weak, breaking easily and hence is very sensitive to wind which will break off large branches.  It can block the flow of creeks and cause creek bank erosion, causing other trees to fall over. It has vicious thorns so needs to be handled carefully with gloves. Spikes require antiseptic to prevent infection.