This member of the pea family is displaying exotic-looking flowers in the Glasshouse Bays.
This spiny South American tree is seldom seen in our gardens, preferring the shelter of a glasshouse. Where it does grow outside it is often knocked back by frosts and makes new growth each season, and tends to only grow to 1.5-2m, rather than attaining its potential height of 9m. If grown in the garden it requires a sheltered position and a winter mulch to protect it from frosts. The foliage is tri-pinnate, with the terminal leaflet being larger than the others, and the flowers are typical of members of the pea family (Fabaceae), having five petals with long standard petals. These are held in terminal racemes up to 30cm long, and are a deep red, and earn it the common names coral tree and cock’s comb. The generic name Erythrina comes from the Greek for red, and the specific name crista-galli means cock’s comb.