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Erythrina crista-galli

Erythrina crista-galli is a flowering tree in the family Fabaceae, native to Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay. It is widely planted as a street or garden tree in other countries, most notably in California (in the United States). It is known by several common names within South America: ceibo, seibo (Spanish), corticeira (Portuguese) and the more ambiguous bucare, to name a few. In English it is often known as the Cockspur Coral Tree.

The tree's flower is the national flower of Argentina (since 23 December 1942) and Uruguay.

This species characteristically grows wild in gallery forest ecosystems along water courses, as well as in swamps and wetlands. In urban settings, it is often planted in parks for its bright red flowers.


Erythrina crista-galli is a small tree, the girth of its trunk measuring . Normally it grows tall, although some individuals, such as in the Argentine provinces of Salta, Jujuy and Tucuman, can grow up to .

The root is a taproot with nodules produced by nitrogen fixing bacteria. The bacteria live in symbiosis with the tree, facilitating the tree's absorption of nitrogen in return for organic substances which the bacteria need. The tree's trunk is woody with irregular, spiny branches. These branches form a layer without definite form and die after flowering.

The tree flowers in the summer, from October to April in their native South America and from April to October in the northern hemisphere. It Usually blooms from November to February The red flower, arranged in inflorescences of the raceme type, is pentameric, complete, and of bilateral symmetry. Its calyx is gamosepalous, like a little red thimble. The corolla, like that of other legumes like common beans, is butterfly-shaped; however, the largest petal, called the "standard", is arranged in the lower part. The two of the petals called "wings" are so small that they are practically hidden within the calyx. The remaining two petals partially fuse together on occasion and form the flower's keel or "carina"; this protects its reproductive organs. The androecium consists of ten stamens, one free and nine united by their filaments (gynostemial androecium). The unicarpel gynoecium is welded between the stamens like a knife in its sheath.

The flowers are rich in nectar and get visited by insects, which usually have to crawl underneath the carina and thus pollinate the flowers.

The tree's fruit is monocarpic and dry, of the legume type, and no more than a few centimeters in length. The chestnut-brown seeds are cylindrical in form and are arranged sparsely throughout the seedpod's interior. The seed germ contains hypogeous cotyledons - the seeds stay underground upon germination.

File:Cockspur Coral Tree (Erythrina crista-galli) trunk in Hyderabad W IMG 7741.jpg|Trunk, Hyderabad, India.

File:Cockspur Coral Tree (Erythrina crista-galli) leaves in Hyderabad, AP W IMG 7742.jpg|Leaves, Hyderabad, India.

File:Erythrina crista-galli1.jpg|Flower buds.

File:Cockspur Coral Tree (Erythrina crista-galli) Flowers in Hyderabad, AP W IMG 7740.jpg|Inflorescence, Hyderabad, India.


Corallodendron crista-galli (L.) Kuntze

Erythrina crista-galli L. var. hasskarlii Backer

Erythrina crista-galli L. var. leucochlora A.Lombardo

Erythrina fasciculata Benth.

Erythrina laurifolia Jacq.

Erythrina pulcherrima Tod.

Erythrina speciosa Tod.

E. speciosa Andrews is a distinct species

Micropteryx crista-galli Walp.

Micropteryx fasciculata Walp.

Micropteryx laurifolia Walp.


This article draws heavily on the [[:es:Erythrina crista galli|corresponding article]] in the [[:es:Portada|Spanish-language Wikipedia]].

(2005): Erythrina crista-galli. Version 10.01, November 2005. Retrieved 2008-JAN-26.

(1904): Gardening for the Million. Fisher Unwin, London. TXT and HTML fulltexts at Project Gutenberg.

External links

John Stephen Glasby, Dictionary of Plants Containing Secondary Metabolites, Published by CRC Press

Images of Legume, Seeds - Flavon's Wild herb and Alpine plants

Dia de la Flor Nacional - "National Flower Day", in Argentina's Ministry of Health and Environment website .

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