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Erythrina fusca Lour.

Syn.: Erythrina glauca Willd.
Gallito, Coral bean, Bois immortelle

Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Description
  5. Germplasm
  6. Distribution
  7. Ecology
  8. Cultivation
  9. Harvesting
  10. Yields and Economics
  11. Energy
  12. Biotic Factors
  13. References


Occasionally planted as a hedge and as a support for the betel vine in Assam and Bengal. Young leaves are eaten, raw or boiled, as a vegetable in Java. In Puerto Rico, trees have been planted in pastures and along fences and roads as ornamental shade trees. Elsewhere, they are used for cacao and coffee shade and living fence posts. Heartwood is light yellow to yellowish-brown and moderately soft. The lightweight wood is weak, not durable, and scarcely suitable for lumber.

Folk Medicine

According to Hartwell (1967–1971) seeds are used in folk remedies for cancer in Annam. Reported to have the same medicinal attributes as Erythrina indica, whose bark is used for fever, hepatosis, malaria, rheumatism, toothache, also for boils and fractures. Perry (1980) cites many more uses for Erythrina indica. The bark is used for poulticing fresh wounds in Malasia. Boiled roots are taken internally or externally for beri-beri. Grated wood used for hematuria (Perry, 1980). The root is used for rheumatism. Bark and leaves serve as a vermifuge (List and Horhammer, 1969–1979).


Per 100 g, the leaves are reported to contain 60 calories, 81.5 g H2O, 4.6 g protein, 0.8 g fat, 11.7 g total carbohydrate, 4.1 g fiber, 1.4 g ash, 57 mg Ca, 40 mg P, 1.8 mg Fe, 2,300 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.24 mg thiamine, 0.17 mg riboflavin, 4.7 mg niacin, and 3 mg ascorbic acid (Leung et al, 1972). Leaves contain (ZMB): 325 calories, 24.9 g protein, 4.3 g fat, 63.3 g total carbohydrate, 22.2 g fiber, 7.6 g ash, 308 mg Ca, 222 mg P, 5.2 mg Fe, 0.91 mg thiamine, 0.52 mg riboflavin, 6.54 mg niacin, and 78 mg ascorbic acid (Duke, 1981b). Seeds contain the alkaloid erythraline. Erysodine, erysonine, erysopine, erysothiopine, eryso- thiovine, crysovine, erythraline, erythramine, erythratine, and hypaphorine are also reported (List and Horhammer, 1969–1979). The similarity in alkaloid and amino acid patterns in E. fusca and E. glauca were considered by Krukoff (1972) in rendering these species synonymous.


Deciduous armed tree, 10–20 m tall; to 1 m dbh; outer bark grayish, coarse, branches glabrous, sparsely armed with short prickles. Leaves trifoliolate; stipules caducous; petioles 8–18 cm long; rachis 4–8 cm long; petiole and rachis with 2 apical glands; leaflets ±ovate, ±rounded or acute at apex, glabrous above, with white appressed trichomes below; terminal leaflet 8–14 cm long, 7–12 cm wide; lateral leaflets smaller. Flowers thick, mostly 3 per node, in large, terminal, somewhat pendent racemes; pedicels stout, turned away from apex, ca 2 cm long; flowers showy, pale orange; stamens diadelphous, green, gradually arched, about halfway exserted. Legumes 15–20 cm long, 2 cm wide, densely brown-tomentose, pointed at apex, weakly ribbed on margins; seeds several, ellipsoid, dark brown, ca 12 mm long (Croat, 1978).


Reported from the Indochina-Indonesian and Central American Centers of Diversity (Croat, 1978), bois immortelle, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate waterlogging. Apparently it will not tolerate shade. (2n = 42)


Mascarene Islands, from Northeastern India to Java, Polynesia and Sri Lanka. Near sea coasts, along rivers, and in places where soil conditions exclude the true "high evergreen forest" (Burkill, 1966). According to Croat, the species (as E. fusca) is widespread in the Old World tropics, while in the Americas (as E. glauca), it ranges from Guatemala throughout the Amazon Basin. In Panama, it is known only from Tropical Moist Forest, often forming pure stands in freshwater marshes, in the Canal Zone, Bocas del Toro, Cocle, Darien, and Panama (Croat, 1978). This is the most widespread species in the genus, and the only one occurring (on three continents, undoubtedly dispersed by marine currents (Krukoff, 1972).


Estimated to range from Tropical Dry to Wet through Subtropical Dry to Wet Forest Life Zones, this coral bean is estimated to tolerate annual precipitation of 10 to 40 dm, annual temperature of 20 to 28°C, and pH of 6 to 8. According to Krukoff (1972) the species thrives in variety of conditions, seeming to prefer lowlands (seashores, swamps with outlets, low overflow lands, river banks, shores of lakes, etc.).


According to Martin and Ruberte (1975), this is one of the easiest species of Erythrina to grow. Like most Erythrinas, this probably roots readily from large fence-post sized cuttings. Seeds germinate rather rapidly.


For those risking them as vegetables, the young buds and leaves are probably at their tenderest when leafing out, often in tandem with the commencement of the rainy season.

Yields and Economics

No data available.


With no hard data available to me, I have no reason to suspect that this species would be any less productive than E. poeppigiana, which probably returns ca 25 MT/ha/yr in monoculture, 10 MT/ha in intercropping scenarios. Nitrogen fixing nodules are reported in Hawaii (Allen and Allen, 1981).

Biotic Factors

Croat suggests that hummingbirds pollinate the species, said to produce a copious nectar.


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
Last update Tuesday, January 6, 1998 by aw