Erythrina x sykesii

Coral tree

Also known as:

Cockspur coral tree

Family: Fabaceae

Origin: South America

Flowers of a coral tree cri.
The flowers are followed by seed pods which ripen to brown.

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Not a legally declared pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Small to medium-sized deciduous tree < 8 m tall. Stems are thorny and green, shiny and hairless when young, turning woody with age. Leaves are alternate, smooth, compound with three leaflets and borne on thorny petioles.

Flowers are borne in clusters and are red, with one large recurved petal and a keel formed by two lower petals fused together. Seed pods are elongated, < 22 cm long, green ripening to dark brown and contain large, hard, mottled dark brown seeds.

What you need to know

Although coral tree is not a legally declared pest plant, it may still be invasive in some situations. Consider lower risk alternatives for your garden, such as native plants.


Coastal areas, riparian margins, wetlands, urban areas.


Sets seed. Vegetative spread from stem fragments. Seeds and stem fragments dispersed by water. Human-mediated dispersal through dumping of garden waste and deliberate plantings.

Impact on environment

May invade riparian areas. Nitrogen fixer.


Site Management

Always treat standing plants, do not cut down as all stems will regrow. Allow to fully die before felling. Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: All parts.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Drill and inject trees with 10g metsulfuron-methyl per 1L of water if safe to do so. Drill 18mm holes (tangentially angled downwards) in a spiral up the trunk.

For 50mm stems drill one hole. For 100mm stems drill two holes. For larger stems drill holes 150mm apart. Foliar spray any stem fragment regrowth with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Close up of a coral tree flower.
Flowers are formed in clusters and are red and develop in spring.
Photo credit: Forest and Kim Starr
Close up of coral tree leaves.
The stems are thorny and green.
Photo credit: Forest and Kim Starr