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aabell

Erythrina caffra in Florida?

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aabell

I noticed this interesting gnarled old tree yesterday in Fort Myers, FL and I've been searching for more information on it. I recognized the pea-like leaves as similar to our native Erythrina herbacea, and I know that there are many other exotic species in the genus, but I have never seen them here.

A bit of research led me to this article -https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=20229

"The Erythrina stem borer (ESB) (sometimes known as the Erythrina twig borer) (Terastia meticulosalis), a potentially devastating pest of Erythrina spp. (coral trees) ...The ESB is of special concern for us because so little is known about its management and it appears to be especially destructive on coral trees, infesting seeds, destroying branch tips, and even killing whole plants. In Florida where it is native, it is a serious pest of naturally occurring and exotic coral trees, which are valued for agriculture, medicine, and landscape ornament (Powell and Westley 1993). Indeed, the cultivation of exotic coral trees in Florida is essentially impossible because of the ESB (Raven 1974); the only coral tree that can be cultivated reliably there is the native Erythrina herbacea, which likely co-evolved with and is found over most of the range of the ESB. "

Also some interesting bits of information in this palmtalk thread. The striations in the bark look like a match for this tree. 

 

Google streetview imagery of the tree going back to 2007 shows no sign of flowering in November, January, March, or May, and no discernable growth.  So what I'm guessing is that the gnarled look and apparent lack of flowers are due to the stem borers. What's interesting is that it is still alive and is apparently quite old. I have not been able to find photos yet of many other large exotica Erythrina trees in Florida, except for this postcard from 1939: https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/332836

Am I on the mark with this ID, and how common are exotic Erythrina trees in Florida?

 

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Silas_Sancona
4 hours ago, aabell said:

I noticed this interesting gnarled old tree yesterday in Fort Myers, FL and I've been searching for more information on it. I recognized the pea-like leaves as similar to our native Erythrina herbacea, and I know that there are many other exotic species in the genus, but I have never seen them here.

A bit of research led me to this article -https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=20229

"The Erythrina stem borer (ESB) (sometimes known as the Erythrina twig borer) (Terastia meticulosalis), a potentially devastating pest of Erythrina spp. (coral trees) ...The ESB is of special concern for us because so little is known about its management and it appears to be especially destructive on coral trees, infesting seeds, destroying branch tips, and even killing whole plants. In Florida where it is native, it is a serious pest of naturally occurring and exotic coral trees, which are valued for agriculture, medicine, and landscape ornament (Powell and Westley 1993). Indeed, the cultivation of exotic coral trees in Florida is essentially impossible because of the ESB (Raven 1974); the only coral tree that can be cultivated reliably there is the native Erythrina herbacea, which likely co-evolved with and is found over most of the range of the ESB. "

Also some interesting bits of information in this palmtalk thread. The striations in the bark look like a match for this tree. 

 

Google streetview imagery of the tree going back to 2007 shows no sign of flowering in November, January, March, or May, and no discernable growth.  So what I'm guessing is that the gnarled look and apparent lack of flowers are due to the stem borers. What's interesting is that it is still alive and is apparently quite old. I have not been able to find photos yet of many other large exotica Erythrina trees in Florida, except for this postcard from 1939: https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/332836

Am I on the mark with this ID, and how common are exotic Erythrina trees in Florida?

 

treeid4.jpg

20210402_182707crop.jpg

20210402_182700.jpg

treeid3.jpg

Impressive specimen -whatever species it is..

Only species i remember seeing in FL. was E. X bidwillii and a crista gali and think that was up in Tampa somewhere..  The rest? nada.. Not w/ the stem borers.  That said, saw something ( want to say it was in some information shared regarding the stem borer's recent appearance in California ) that suggested that species from the Americas might be better at tolerating stem borers vs. other sp. from Africa, Australia / Asia simply due to the fact that Mexican and Central/South American species evolved with this insect. Species in this group might be worth trying, but tough to say if they'd still grow / flower yearly there.

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aabell

Update - I accidentally stumbled on to some answers to my own question today at the Edison Ford Estates, about a mile away from the tree above. Here is the Florida state Champion Erythrina variegata, even more gnarled looking than the first tree. I'm not actually sure its any bigger either, I know trunk size weighs heavily in those calculations but the crown on the champion seems to have been cut back and the tree looks closer to death. The age of this tree is anyone's guess, it sits right off the porch of Thomas Edison's home built in the 1880s. 

So now I know there are two of them in town at least. I'll have to keep an eye out for flowers.

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Edited by aabell
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