Botanical Name: Erythrina indica
Synonyms: Erythrina variegata (Erythrina indica Lam., Erythrina variegata var. orientalis (L.) Merr.
Common Name: Indian Coral Tree and Sunshine Tree
Seeds collection period: Oct- Nov
Seeds longevity: 1-2 year
Erythrina indica is a medium-sized, spiny, deciduous tree normally growing to 6-9 m (occasionally 28 m) tall and 60 cm dbh. Young stems and branches are thickly armed with stout conical spines up to 8 mm long, which fall off after 2-4 years; rarely, a few spines persist and are retained with the corky bark. Bark smooth and green when young, exfoliating in papery flakes, becoming thick, corky and deeply fissured with age. Leaves trifoliate, alternate, bright emerald-green, on long petioles 6-15 cm, rachis 5-30 cm long, prickly; leaflets smooth, shiny, broader than long, 8-20 by 5-15 cm, ovate to acuminate with an obtusely pointed end. Leaf petiole and rachis are spiny. Flowers in bright pink to scarlet erect terminal racemes 15-20 cm long; stamens slightly protruding from the flower. Fruit a cylindrical torulose pod, green, turning black and wrinkly as they ripen, thin-walled and constricted around the seeds. There are 1-8 smooth, oblong, dark red to almost black seeds per pod.
In India, the rich, red blooms make their striking appearance among the leafless branches in January-March. The short lived flowers are quickly followed by the new leaves in early summer. A coral tree in full bloom is like an aviary. Crows, Mynahs, rosy-pastors, babblers , as well as numerous bees and wasps swarm round to eat nectar, pollinating the trees. Soon after flowering, the big green pods begin to form.