Erythrina poeppigiana (Walp.) O.F. Cook
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Allen and Allen (1981) describe the tree as invaluable shade for coffee and
cocoa. Since they are readily propagated from cuttings, they are also used for
living fence posts. Both the shade trees and fence posts can be lopped as
green manure, a system in use in Costa Rica and perhaps elsewhere. With its
handsome orange-red f lowers, it is sometimes planted as an ornamental.
Unpruned trees grew too large for coffee shade trees in Puerto Rico, according
to Little and Wadsworth (1964), so its recommendation for coffee shade has been
discontinued in Puerto Rico. It is still a popular coffee shade tree in the
Andes. Flowers are said to be eaten in salads and soups (Little and Wadsworth,
According to Little and Wadsworth (1964), the bark, twigs, and seeds of various
Erythrina species, more or less toxic, have provided local drugs and
medicines. I have no specific data on this species.
Per 100 g, the seed is reported to contain 36.8 g protein, 12.4 g fat, and 5.5
g ash. The seeds, possibly poisonous, proved negative for starch test,
alkaloid test, and tannin test (Earle and Jones, 1962). Willaman and Schubert
(1961) report the alkaloids erysodine, erysopine, erysothiovine, erysovine, and
hypaphorine from the seeds.
Deciduous tree to as much as 25 m tall, 1 m DBH, the crown spreading. Bark is
greenish brown to gray brown, smooth or slightly furrowed, warty, or spiny.
Leaves trifoliate, 2030 cm long including the pubescent petioles, the leaflets
with paired cupular glands near the bases of the lateral leaflets. Racemes
1020 cm long, the flowers caducous, orange red; petals 5; stamens 10, the
anthers brown. Pods 1225 cm long, several seeded, falcate, slightly depressed
between the seeds, long-stalked, pointed at both ends. Seeds 12 cm long,
weighing ca .183 g each.
Reported from the South American Center of Diversity, poro, or cvs thereof, is
reported to tolerate acid soils as well as moist limestone soils. (2n =
Probably native from Venezuela to Panama, south to Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador,
and Peru. Cultivated in Florida, Guatemala to Costa Rica, the West Indies, and
the Old World Tropics.
I estimate that the species ranges from Tropical Moist to Tropical Wet through
Subtropical Dry to Subtropical Rain Forest Life Zones, where annual
precipitation is 15 to 40 dm, annual temperature is 20 to 28°C, and pH is
4.0 to7.5. Studied at Turrialba, mean annual temperature 22.3°C, the annual
precipitation 2639 mm with only one month with less than 100 mm. The relative
humidity is 87.6%, the mean monthly evaporation 92.3 mm, and the mean daily
radiation 432 cal/m2/day. Soils were alluvial with moderate to
deficient drainage, the pH 4.6, organic matter 6.77.2%, nitrogen 0.250.43%
exchangeable potassium 0.45.
In Costa Rica, the trees are spaced roughly at 6 x 6 m, with > density of ca
280 trees/ha, interspersed with ca 4300 coffee plants/ha (Russo, 1982).
The trunks, some nearly 30 cm in diameter, are lopped ca head height or higher
twice a year. The prunings are added to the soils as green manure (Russo,
The addition of organic matter due to the biennial loppings can run to 10
MT/yr, improving, if anything, the yield of the coffee intercrop (Russo, 1982).
Although not producing very good fuel, the biomass production could probably
approximate or surpass 25 MT/ha/yr in monoculture, fixing N all the while.
The following diseases are reported from species of Erythrina:
Cercospora erythrinae (on leaves), Cercospora erythrinicola,
Clitocybe tabescens (root rot), Colletotrichum erythrinae (on
leaves), Dicheirinia binata (rust), Meliola bicornis, Meliola
crenatissima, Meliola erythrinae (black mildew), Meloidogyne sp.
(root knot nematodes), Mycosphaerella erythrinae (on leaves), Nectria
cinnabarina (on stems), Pellicularia kolerogna (thread blight),
Phoma erythrinicola (on stems), Phyllosticta erythrinicola (leaf
spot), Phymatotrichum omnivorum (root rot), Rhizoctonia ramicola
(thread blight), and Verticillium sp. (probably albo-atrum)
(wilt) (Agriculture Handbook 165).
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Agriculture Handbook 165. 1960. Index of plant diseases in the United States.
- Allen, O.N. and Allen, E.K. 1981. The Leguminosae. The University of Wisconsin
Press. 812 p.
- Earle, F.R. and Jones, Q. 1962. Analyses of seed samples from 113 plant
families. Econ. Bot. 16(4):221250.
- Little, E.L., Jr., and Wadsworth, F.H. 1964. Common trees of Puerto Rico and
the Virgin Islands. Ag. Handbook 249, USDA, Washington, DC.
- Russo, R.O. 1982. Resultados preliminares de biomesa de la poda de Erythrina
poeppigiana (Walpers) O.F. Cook (poro) en Turrialba, Costa Rica.
Typescript. CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica.
- Willaman, J.J. and Schubert, B.G. 1961. Alkaloid-bearing plants and their
contained alkaloids. USDA Tech. Bul. 1234.
Last update Tuesday, January 6, 1998 by aw