top of page

Common Names: Coral Tree, Mulunguti, Chisunga, Mwale
Family: Fabaceae (Legume Family) Papilionoideae


Growth Form, Habitat and Distribution 
A medium-sized, spiny, deciduous tree with stout branches and a rounded spreading crown. Occurs over most of Zambia in wooded grassland and rocky areas, and Chipya woodland, but absent from the Kalahari sand areas in the south and west.

Size     Height 5 to 15m, usually less than 10m, spread up to 10m.
Bark    Grey-brown to dark brown, distinctly corky and vertically fissured, often spiny-tipped knobs on the trunk. Hooked prickles in the smaller branches. Exudes a brown gum if damaged.
Leaves    3-foliate, leaflets almost as wide as long with the terminal leaflet largest (5.5 to 14cm), usually hairy below, sometimes with scattered prickles on the prominent midrib. Petiole 10 to 15cm.
Flowers    Emerge nearly simultaneously in showy scarlet terminal spikes when the tree is leafless, July to October.
Fruit     A dark brown or blackish, furry, curled, necklace-like pod constrained between the seeds (up to 10cm), ripening November to March, splitting to release 2 to 6 bright scarlet and black seeds.
Uses    The wood light coloured and soft and is used to make toys and drums and the seeds are used in necklaces and other trinkets. The seeds contain lethal alkaloids, but only when injected. Grows well from truncheons and makes a good garden specimen tree. 
Other species in Zambia: 6 other species. E. latissima is similar but has larger and overlapping leaflets and E. livingstoniana leaves are lobed, not 3-foliate. 2 are riverine (mushitu) trees and the other 2 suffrutices.

Erythrina abyssinica

    bottom of page