Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Mother Tree
Erythrina berteroana

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Erythrina (er-ith-RY-nuh) (Info)
Species: berteroana (ber-ter-oh-AY-na) (Info)

One member has or wants this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Seed is poisonous if ingested
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Unknown - Tell us

Unknown - Tell us

Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel
Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Click thumbnail
to view:

By Kazabee
Thumbnail #1 of Erythrina berteroana by Kazabee


2 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive bobonic On Aug 1, 2004, bobonic from Bellingham, WA wrote:

We have just started out wonderful Mother Tree. My wife and I have this tree because of its "roots" not the roots of a tree but where it comes from. She is from Costa Rica and where you look you see this gorgous tree as fencing with barbed wire wraped around it! What a border! We enjoy looking and watering our little guy who we have had since just a seedling. We brought it back with us in hoping it would grow up here in North West corner of Washington State. And boy does it ever, well in the summer anyway. I have found it sort of produces a funny smell, not necesarilly bad smell but just a weird one. And also at night the leaves droop, and it is sort of alarming to see that the first time we saw it. We thought it was dying, but as soon as the sun came back up the next day it just popped right back up. Such an amazing tree and we hope to see it bloom in a few years, and maybe find a permenant place in our home when it gets big enough.

Positive Kazabee On Oct 3, 2002, Kazabee wrote:

We have had a Mother Tree for about 6 years. It grows fairly quickly with proper care. We have yet to see ours bloom, but this summer it really sprouted up outdoors and grew thorns! It nearly died on us due to improper potting (poor drainage). The roots practically disintegrated and it was down to just a few shoots on a withered looking stalk about 5 feet tall. Be sure you keep it in a pot that allows for good drainage. Can be kept indoors years round in full light, though I highly recommend keeping it outdoors during the summer in full sunlight!
From July throu August this summer, by keeping it outdoors in full sunlight, it came back to life! We are learning more on this wonderful plant as we go along. We are hoping to have it flower next year now that it has recovered from near death! I do know that the seeds are somewhat poisonous. They are reported to be narcotic with curare-like properties. Used by natives to subdue fish for ease of catching. Certain parts of the plant may be poisonous as well, though natives use flowers and leaves to prepare some meals. keeping seeds or flowers or leaves ounder pillow is thought to make one sleep well.

We would like to know if anyone has more experience with this plant, and how you prune it. We water it often, short of keeping the soil completely damp, but it does well when kept moist.

Some other interesting facts: Used as a living fence in certain countries for agricultural purposes. Many folk remedy uses. Also called Coral Bean, among other names. Our plant is currently about 6' tall, but reports say it can reach 10 meters in height!

This plant is very hardy and fun to have around (for a plant). Heck, if we couldn't kill it, nothing can :)


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bellingham, Washington

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