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Erythrina berteroana - Pito coral tree


Native to:



Southern Central America, the Caribbean, north-western South America.

Wet to dry thickets, thin forest, abundant in hedges. 30-1210 meters above sea level. 10 meter tall tree.

Erythrina berteroana - Pito coral tree

Ecological value:

Fixes atmosphere Nitrogen. Planted for erosion control, and as a windbreak. Attracts pollinators such as hummingbirds and insects. Also grown as an ornamental. Live fence. Long lived.

Material uses:

Seeds used to make jewelry. The bark produces a yellow dye used to dye textiles. Wood is solid and hard, but light, and not particularly strong. Used for carvings or toys and as a substitute for cork. Fuel wood.

Edible uses:

Flowers are cooked and eaten as a form of vegetable. Consuming too much can result to fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Used as shade tree.

Medicinal use:

Consumed in large quantities the plant acts as a sedation and induces deep sleep. Flowers prepared in tea help with hormonal and menstrual imbalances. It also treats hemorrhages, dysentery, and anxiety.

Other details:

Crushed branches used as fish poison. Mulch from leaves results in better phosphorus balance, higher micro-fauna population and increased crop yield. Most Erythrina species are easy to grown from cuttings. All Erythrina spaces contain amounts of toxic alkaloids, generally found in seeds.


Jennifer Yaing/Christine Facella


“Erythrina Berteroana Urb. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 7, 2023.
‌“Erythrina Berteroana - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d. Accessed November 7, 2023.
Little E.L. Wadsworth F.H., ‘Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands’, USDA, Forest Service; Washington, 1964
Image source: Forest and Kim Starr

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