Indian Coral Tree grows wild across India. Other common names are Corky Coral Tree, Lenten tree, Sunshine tree, and Tiger claw. They also grow in Burma, Java, and Polynesia. It is known as Mandara in Hindi and Dadap in Bengali. The botanical name is Leguminosae Erythrina indica or variegate and belongs to Fabaceae (Pea) family. This tree has the unique distinction of being mentioned in the Indian epic Mahabharata.
Indian Coral Tree can grow to a height of 80 feet and spread to 40 feet. This deciduous tree has smooth grey-green bark and covered with thorns. It is a popular ornamental tree planted to beautify a city or garden.
The leaves are green, compound with three large triangular shaped leaflets and thorns. The leaves are 6 inches long. The tree is leafless during winter.
Flowers bloom in early January and last till April. The flowers are bright red and grown on spikes either alone or in clusters. Each flower has five petals with one being larger than the others. The flowers are 2 to 3 inches long.
The seed is brown, kidney-shaped with red or purple seeds within them. They are 15 inches long.
Indian Coral Tree wood is used to make small boats. The leaves are edible and are cooked to make curries. The petals are used to derive a red dye.
Traditional medicine practitioners use parts of this tree to cure certain ailments.