Mountain immortelle


Mountain immortelle, or coral-tree, is native to Panama and the northern half of South America. It is planted throughout the tropics for cacao and coffee shade, along roads, and for reforestation of degraded soils. In its native distribution it reaches a height of 115 feet, with a trunk 4 or more feet in diameter. The trunk and the branches frequently have conical spines. The leaves have a long petiole and three leaflets, the largest 7 or more inches long. Flowers are up to 2 inches long, are grouped in horizontal racemes and vary in color from orange to almost red. Fruits are apically-pointed pods up to 10 inches long. The tree flowers in winter, after shedding most of its leaves, and sometimes again during the summer. Fruits mature during winter and spring. The generic name means red-colored, in reference to the flowers. The species name honors the German naturalist Eduard Friederich Poeppig (1798-1868).

The photographed tree is northeast of the Chemical Engineering Building. There is another tree southwest of the same building, near road 108.

Erythrina poeppigiana (Fabaceae)