Erythrina fusca Lour.
Syn.: Erythrina glauca Willd.
Gallito, Coral bean, Bois immortelle
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
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.
According to Hartwell (19671971) 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, 19691979).
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, 19691979).
The similarity in alkaloid and amino acid patterns in E. fusca and E.
glauca were considered by Krukoff (1972) in rendering these species
Deciduous armed tree, 1020 m tall; to 1 m dbh; outer bark grayish, coarse,
branches glabrous, sparsely armed with short prickles. Leaves trifoliolate;
stipules caducous; petioles 818 cm long; rachis 48 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 814 cm long, 712 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 1520 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
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).
Croat suggests that hummingbirds pollinate the species, said to produce a
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Allen, O.N. and Allen, E.K. 1981. The Leguminosae. The University of Wisconsin
Press. 812 p.
- Burkill, J.H. 1966. A dictionary of economic products of the Malay peninsula.
Art Printing Works, Kuala Lumpur. 2 vols.
- Croat, T.B. 1978. Flora of Barro Colorado Island. Stanford University Press.,
- Duke, J.A. 1981b. The gene revolution. Paper 1. p. 89150. In: Office of
Technology Assessment, Background papers for innovative biological technologies
for lesser developed countries. USGPO. Washington.
- Hartwell, J.L. 19671971. Plants used against cancer. A survey. Lloydia 3034.
- Krukoff, B.A. 1972. Notes on Asiatic-Polynesian-Australian species of
Erythrina. II. J. Arn. Arb. 53:128139.
- Leung W., Woot-Tsuen, Butrum, R.R., and Chang, F.H. 1972. Part I. Proximate
composition mineral and vitamin contents of east Asian foods. In: Food
composition table for use in east Asia. FAO & U.S. Dept. HEW.
- List, P.H. and Horhammer, L. 19691979. Hager's handbuch der pharmazeutischen
praxis. vols 26. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
- Martin, F.W. and Ruberte, R.M. 1975. Edible leaves of the tropics. Antillian
College Press, Mayaguez.
- Perry, L.M. 1980. Medicinal plants of east and southeast Asia. MIT Press,
Last update Tuesday, January 6, 1998 by aw