Flame Coral Tree
In Mexico, the flame coral tree (arbol Zompantle or Colorín) is an emblematic tree in Mexico. It can be found in parks and neighborhoods throughout Mexico. It is also common in the Mexican countryside.
The scientific name of the species is Erythrina coralloides; and it belongs to the legume/pea family, Fabaceae.
The flame coral tree is endemic to Mexico, native to eastern Mexico.
The tree measures from 3 to 5 meters and can reach 10 meters in height. Its branches are thorny and pale green. It is a flowering tree with clusters of striking coral-red flowers that are pyramidal.
Flowering occurs in the months of February to April.
Its seeds are smooth, glossy, coral-red, with a salient line on the back side.
The tree ranges from the northern state of Tamaulipas to the southern state of Oaxaca. It is a tree that grows near rivers and is commonly seen in abandoned land. It is commonly grown in home gardens as an attractive ornamental. It is associated with tropical forests.
In agriculture, the tree is cultivated as shade in for cocoa and coffee trees.
Flame coral trees flower in the months of February to April.
The flowers are also used as a food source. They are boiled or fried and consumed as a food supplement. They have a high protein and lipid content. The fruit and saplings are used in stews.
Birds frequently visit its flowers, rich in nectar. In Mexico, hummingbirds are commonly seen visiting its flowers.
The wood of the flame coral tree is commonly used in the elaboration of Mexican handicrafts and art products. In the states of Guerrero, Michoacán, and Oaxaca, masks are made for town festivals. The white wood of the Flame Coral tree is used for making bungs. In San Luis Potosi especially, figurines are made.
Their roots are superficial.
Significance in Mexico
The flame coral tree (tzompantle) was a tree was sacred to the Aztecs. The use of the tree for its medicinal purposes by ancestral people of Mexico, continues to this day.
The Florentine codex attributes aesthetic value to the Flame Coral tree.