This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
Erythrina crista-galli is a very popular tree with outstanding flowers. The tree is small normally reaching 16 to 26 feet in height. Additionally, it has a furrowed reddish-brown bark and a woody somewhat crooked trunk with spiny irregular branches. It tends to produce multiple trunks and become shrub like if not pruned. Furthermore, the crown is rounded or umbrella-shaped, spreading and moderately dense. Also, the leaves are alternate, trilobate, dark green, turning a golden color before falling, but are quickly replaced. The leaflets are 3 to 6 by 1.5 inches. The leaflets are smooth on the top but with small curved spines on the back and petiole.
Further, the flowers are borne singly or in groups of 2 to 3 on elongated bunches. The blooms are 2 by 1 inch and vary in color from scarlet to pink with white markings. Moreover, the flowers attract hummingbirds and insects. While the fruits are dry, slightly curved pods turning from green to dark brown. The fruits are 3 to 8 inches long and contain 8 to 10 chestnut brown seeds. The seeds are used for propagation and reportedly poisonous if ingested.
Also, Erythrina crista-galli will grow in a range of well-drained soils and is frost tolerant (down to 20 f). The tree needs pruning to maintain a desirable shape and to stimulate flowering. It is susceptible to aphids and root rot. Crista-galli is a popular park and garden tree for its shade and very showy flowers. It can also be planted along streets, but does produce considerable litter. Crista-galli is a good species for planting under utility lines. It is the national tree of Argentina and Uruguay.