If you would like to support this site, please consider Donating.
Useful Tropical Plants

Erythrina herbacea

L.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Erythrina arborea Small

Common Name: Cardinal Spear

Erythrina herbacea
Mature seeds emerging from the seedpod
Photograph by: Eleanor
Creative Commons License
Erythrina herbacea Erythrina herbacea Erythrina herbacea Erythrina herbacea Erythrina herbacea

General Information

Cardinal spear is very variable in habit according to the environment in which it grows. A tree in the warm southerly parts of its range, it becomes shrubby or even herbaceous towards the limits of its cooler northerly range[
229
Title
The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History.
Publication
 
Author
Elias. T.
Publisher
Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.
Year
1980
ISBN
0442238622
Description
A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions.
].
The plant is gathered from the wild for local use for food, medicine and beads.

Known Hazards

The plant contains alkaloids that have powerful narcotic and purgative effects[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
The seeds contain numerous toxic alkaloids, including erysodine and erysopine. They have an action similar to curare and have been used as a rat poison[
274
Title
Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas
Publication
 
Author
Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J
Website
http://artemis.austincollege.edu/acad/bio/gdiggs/NCTXpdf.htm
Publisher
Botanical Research Institute, Texas.
Year
1999
ISBN
1-889878-01-4
Description
An excellent flora, which is also available on-line.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
274
Title
Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas
Publication
 
Author
Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J
Website
http://artemis.austincollege.edu/acad/bio/gdiggs/NCTXpdf.htm
Publisher
Botanical Research Institute, Texas.
Year
1999
ISBN
1-889878-01-4
Description
An excellent flora, which is also available on-line.

Range

South-eastern N. America - North Carolina to Florida and Texas.

Habitat

Sandy soils in hummocks, the coastal plain and pinelands[
229
Title
The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History.
Publication
 
Author
Elias. T.
Publisher
Van Nostrand Reinhold Co.
Year
1980
ISBN
0442238622
Description
A very good concise guide. Gives habitats, good descriptions, maps showing distribution and a few of the uses. It also includes the many shrubs that occasionally reach tree proportions.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitShrub
Height3.00 m
PollinatorsInsects
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details


Requires a moderately fertile well-drained soil in a very sunny position[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Plants take 3 - 4 years to flower from seed[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
The various species of Erythrina can all, as far as is known, be intercrossed to produce fertile hybrids[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
755
Title
Nodulation Plants in GRIN Taxonomy
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.ars-grin.gov/~sbmljw/cgi-bin/taxnodul.pl?language=en
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database listing plants that have either positive or negative reports on root and stem nodulation with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
].

Edible Uses

Flowers - cooked. An acceptable vegetable when boiled[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Young leaves - occasionally cooked and eaten[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
].

Medicinal

The plant is narcotic and purgative[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

The root is diaphoretic[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. A cold infusion of the root has been used to treat bowel pain in women[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].
A decoction of the roots or berries has been used to treat nausea, constipation and blocked urination[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].

A decoction of the 'beans' or inner bark has been used as a body rub and steam for numb, painful limbs and joints[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].

A decoction of the leaves has been used as a general tonic[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].

Other Uses

The brilliant red seeds are used as beads[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
].

Propagation

Fresh seeds, and those harvested within 3 - 6 months of maturity, can be sown without any special treatment. Germination rates are generally high and are often 100%. Seeds over 6 months old may take between 12 - 18 months to germinate due to their hard seed coat which becomes tougher with age. Soaking them in hot water, or abrading their seedcoat, can reduce this time considerably. They may be added to water which has just fallen below boiling point and left in the water as it cools for a minimum of one hour, but up to 12 hours for seed 3 years or more old, and then sown in the usual way. Alternatively, file the seeds with a slender triangular file. A groove can be made through the sides of the seed coat with care so as to avoid damaging the cotyledons or embryo, which usually results in the death of the seeds from fungal attack or in malformed and weakened seedlings[
564
Title
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Vol. 66
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; Missouri.
Year
1979
ISBN
 
Description
Contains an article on propagating Erythrina spp. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
Seeds of most species produce strong seedlings from healthy seeds in almost any well-drained soil, with a minimum of trouble from damping-off disease[
564
Title
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Vol. 66
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; Missouri.
Year
1979
ISBN
 
Description
Contains an article on propagating Erythrina spp. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
Cuttings of half-ripe wood.
Heeled cuttings of young growth.

Add a Comment:

If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.