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What is he, and will he die in Utah

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  • What is he, and will he die in Utah

    I'm down here in San Diego for work, and outside the window I saw this really nice tree. I live in northern Utah however, so I'm not thinking this tree would have much of a chance. I figured I'd ask though if anyone knows what he is, or anything about him.

    I'm worried that it's one of those silly trees that doesn't think it's a good idea to drop it's leaves during the winter. It would definitely not like the snow in that case.

    Anyway, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • #2
    Ok, so I talked with the gardener here at the hotel, and he said it's a coral tree. Looking that up I think it's part of the Erythrina family. I still can't seem to find which one though. All the pictures I've seen of trees from that family look different to me, so it's hard to tell what it is. I did find out though that it loses it's leaves in the winter, so that gives me a little hope that it might live through a winter.

    Has anyone heard of a coral tree that looks like this? He said he things it's native to Australia, but he wasn't sure.

    I'm also attaching a pic of a leaf if that helps at all.


    • #3
      Hi Xaint,

      I thought about your tree last night and at first thought it might be mahogany.* I was sure, since you had never seen it in Utah, that it was a tropical or sub-tropical tree.* Glad the gardener was able to help with an id.* Do ask him if it blooms with red flowers.

      Erythrina are tropical and sub-tropical plants and won't survive the cold weather in Utah, which has hardiness zones of 3 to 8.* San Diego is hardiness zone 10 and 11.* Since you already have a botanical name, I did a google with that and found this Wikipedia site, which lists many of the species of this tree and their origin.*

      I looked at all the ones listed for Australia and Erythrina sykesii, which is a hybrid, looks like a potential match from the leaf picture you posted.* This first site was the best site I could find for this particular species with a close-up of the leaf.* It's not Netscape friendly, so use another browser if you use Netscape.

      I know you did alot of searching, but when trying to id a tree or shrub it's best to compare leaves, twigs, bark, flowers (if any) and buds.* The form and shape of the tree would be the last thing to compare, as the form is variable in trees and can be in shrubs as well, especially since they tend to be pruned by humans and/or nature.* The tree in your picture appears to have been heavily limbed up to make way for pedestrian and auto traffic below it, as well as highlight the bark.

      I found a site that lists the possible parents of Erythrina sykesii as E. coralloides and E. lysistemon and tried to find better pics of those.* Most sites show the flowers, as I'm sure you found out.* Here's the site from New Zealand that lists this species as a weed.* Keep in mind that the flowering time listed would be different for the US as this site is in the Southern Hemisphere.* There are a couple of clickable pics, but they aren't of much value for your purpose of id.

      Erythrina coralloides

      Erythrina lysistemon - click on the first pic on the left to see a better view of the leaves and limbs.

      Hope that helps,


      • #4
        The Erythrina sykesii does seem to be a close match. The trees here do seem to have been pruned quite a bit, so I can understand that making things difficult. I tried at first looking up the tree by the leaf, but all of the tree identification programs I used didn't have this tree in the database. Also, what you said about only finding pictures of the flowers was very accurate. It's not in bloom right now, so I had nothing to compare it with.

        It's unfortunate to hear that it's not going to be able to survive the winter where I live. It can drop down into the negatives there, so it won't be a happy camper at all. I really appreciate your help though.

        I've been thinking of getting into bonsai, and maybe he'd do better there, where I can bring him in during the winter. I'd like a full size version though.

        You wouldn't know of any tree that's similar to this that'll live in colder climates would you? I like the open branches with the leafy canopy. Also, the complexity of the branches is quite interesting.

        Thanks for all your help Newt! I really appreciate it.


        • #5
          Xaint, you are very welcome!* I too noticed that trees in urban sub-tropical and tropical areas are pruned alot.* I stayed in Peru and travelled through Ecuador for 4 months and the trees in the cities are pruned adnauseum!* I think it's because they grow so fast and all year round with the warmer climate.*

          There are a couple of trees that come to mind, but keep in mind too, in a cold zone like you live in trees tend to grow more slowly.* Fast growing trees in a climate where we live tend to have weak wood and poor limb structure.* Speaking of cold zones, exactly what is your hardiness zone?* If you aren't sure you can use this zip code zone finder or look at this map of Utah which shows the average low temps.

          I have a search engine where I can search for northern trees based on several factors, including their shape.* It's best to know your hardiness zone as many won't grow in zones 3 or 4.

          Also keep in mind, since trees grow slower in northern zones, we plant them for our grandchildren.* You may never see it get to maturity.* :(*



          • #6
            I almost forgot to ask about the site where you would plant a tree.* I'd need to know if you have space for a large tree (35' spread or more), how tall can it get and what the sun conditions would be.* Full sun is 6 hours or more.