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Products > Erythrina x sykesii
Erythrina x sykesii - Australian Coral Tree
Image of Erythrina x sykesii
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Fabaceae = Pea Family
Origin: Australia (Australasia)
Flower Color: Red
Bloomtime: Spring
Parentage: (E. lysistemon hybrid)
Height: 20-30 feet
Width: 25-40 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Erythrina x sykesii (Australian Coral Tree) - A medium to large semi-deciduous tree with a spreading form to 30 to 40 feet tall by as wide. The bright red flowers are showy fall through spring but are most noticeable while the tree is semi-deciduous in late winter to early spring. The flowers are unlike those of any other cultivated coral tree with a 2 inch long slightly curved broad banner reflexing back to expose the wings, keels and stamens, which are all a bright red color. It has not been observed to ever produce seed like most other Coral Trees and it is presumed that this is because it is of hybrid origin.

Plant in full sun and a give a deep occasional watering but avoid overwatering as this reduces flowering and produces large crowns of soft structurally weak wood that is more likely to fall over or have limbs break and fall many species of coral trees are known for producing such wood and care must be taken in their cultivation to avoid making the trees more susceptible to this and also to their placement to avoid planting over heavily trafficked areas where they might cause harm. This hybrid is a bit more cold hardy than the similar and more common Erythrina caffra. It will withstand temperatures down in the low 20s F for short durations without damage to the harder wood. Our large tree in the nursery had damage to large branches but not the trunk at 18 F in the Christmas week freeze of 1990. It also tolerates being close to the seashore with some protection from direct salt laden winds.

Erythrina x sykesii origins remain unclear. The oldest known plant was discovered in the Brisbane Botanic Garden in Australia where it has been growing since the beginning of the 20th century however it is unrelated to the naturally occurring Erythrina in Australia (E. variegata, E. vespertilio and E. phlebocarpa), though this cultivar has become a common sight throughout Australia. Recent DNA barcoding conducted at the San Diego Zoo indicates that this plant closest related species is the Erythrina speciosa, a species from Brazil. The name "sykesii" honors William Sykes, a New Zealand botanist, who first called attention to trees growing in parks and plantings in the North Island of New Zealand. Mr. Sykes recognized that the trees were not Erythrina variegata, as they had previously been presumed to be. It was introduced into the U.S. in the 1970's when plants made their way to the Los Angeles County Arboretum and later to the Huntington Botanic Garden. There are many fine specimens of this tree in California from San Diego to Santa Barbara. 

This information about Erythrina x sykesii displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.