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Family Papillonaceae
Coral tree
Erythrina crista-galli Linn.
Hai dong dou

Scientific names Common names
Corallodendron crista-galli (L.) Kuntze Coral tree (Engl.)
Erythrina crista-galli Linn. Cockspur coral tree (Engl.)
Erythrina fasciculata Benth. Cry baby tree (Engl.)
Erythrina laurifolia Jacq.  
Erythrina pulcherrima Tod.  
Micropteryx crista-galli Walp.  
Micropteryx fasciculata Walp.  
Micropteryx laurifolia Walp.  
Erythrina crista-galli L. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BULGARIAN: Koralov khrast.
CHINESE: Ji guan ci tong (Taiwan), Hai dong dou.
FRENCH: Érythrine crête de coq, Érythrine des Mayas du Mexique, Érythrine mères du cacao.
JAPANESE: Hosoba deiko.
RUSSIAN: Eritrina petushij greben, Eritriny.
PORTUGUESE: Corticeira.
SPANISH: Árvore-de-coral, Bucaré (Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay), Capa-homem, Ceibo, Flor-de-coral, Muchoc, Mulungu, Mulungu-coral, Murungo, Murungu, Pau imortal, Seibo, Suiná-suiná, Totocero
SWEDISH: Korallbuske.

Coral tree is a flowering medium-sized tree, growing to a height of 5 to 8 meters.. The trunk is woody with irregular spiny branches. Leaves have three leaflets, smooth, alternate, up to 6 centimeters long. Leaflets are dark green, elliptic, acute with entire margins. Flowers are papilionate, petals 5 centimeters long, separate stamens about 1 centimeters long. Fruits are woody, elongated, cylindrical, up to 3 centimeters long.

- Grown in Baguio gardens.

- Native to South America.

- Contains an alkaloid with powerful narcotic and purgative effects.
- Yields mellein, nectriapyrone, 4-hydroxymellein, scyoalone, tyrosol, clavatol, mevinic acid, and mevalonolactone.

- Studies suggest anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antimicrobial properties.
- Considered disinfectant, narcotic, purgative.

Parts utilized
Bark, root.

In the Philippines, not known for any medicinal use.
• In Argentina, used as anti-inflammatory and for treatment of wounds.
In Brazil, several Erythrina species are used by indigenous tribes in Brazil as insecticides, fish poison, medicine, and sleep aid.

Analgesic: Analgesic properties of extracts and fractions from Erythrina crista-galli (Fabaceae) leaves: The study describes the analgesic activity of extracts from Erythrina crista-galli leaves in experimental mice models.
Antimicrobial / Isoflavonoids: Study isolated isoflavonoids coumestrol, genistein and daidzein from the acetone extract of E crista-galli leaves. The compounds showed antimicrobial activity against Bacillus brevis.(9)
Phomol / Anti-Inflammatory: The majority of endophytes isolated from different collections of E crista-galli are species of the genus Phomopsis. Phomol, a novel antibiotic, was isolated from an endophytic fungi from the medicinal plant E crista-galli. (4)
Curarizing Effect: Study evaluated the effect of alcoholic and aqueous extracts of E. crista-galli in cats anesthetized with dial. Extracts produced depression of responses of effectors innervated by cholinergic nerves when the nerves are stimulated by injected by acetylcholine. (7)
Biosynthesis of Erythrina Alkaloids: Study evaluated the Erythrina alkaloid formation in E. crista-galli. (S)-coclaurine as well as (S)-norreticuline were metabolized to erythraline and erythrinine, suggesting a coclaurine-norreticuline pathway. (8)
Pterocarpan Compounds Synthesis / Anti-Malarial: Study yielded sandwicensin (1), a major compound from the stem bark of Erythrina crista galli. Compounds 2 (3-acetyl sandwicensin) and compound 3 (2,7,-dibromo sandwicensin) were synthesized by acetylation and bromination of sandwicensin. Compound 1 from the stem bark and synthesis compounds 2 and 3 showed activity against Plasmodium falcifarum. (10)

Phenolic Compounds / Anti-Malarial / Antioxidant: Study isolated three phenolic compounds from the stem bark of E. crista-galli: phaseollidin (1), sandwicensin (2), and lonchocarpol A (3). Evaluation for antimalarial activity against P. falcifarum showed IC50 of 1.66, 183, and 1.69 µg/mL, respectively. Antioxidant activity against DPPH showed IC50 of 209.4, 305.6 and 1115.7 µM, respectively. (11)
Lectin / Matrix for Human Pluripotent Stem Cells: Study reports on an Erythrina cristagalli lectin (agglutinin) (ECA) matrix that supported the undifferentiated growth and significantly increased the plating efficiency of both hESC (human embryonic stem cells) and human induced pluripotent stem cells when used in conjunction with pinacidil. Findings suggest ECA is a potent simple defined matrix for human pluripotent stem cells. (12)


Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Updated October 2015

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Science Links Japan
Analgesic properties of extracts and fractions from Erythrina crista-galli (Fabaceae) leaves
/ Luiz G O Fisher et al / Natural Product Research, Volume 21, Issue 8 July 2007 , pages 759 - 766 / DOI: 10.1080/14786410601130554
Antimicrobial isoflavonoids from Erythrina crista galli infected with Phomopsis sp. / Research article summary (published 27 Feb 2007)
Phomol, a New Antiinflammatory Metabolite from an Endophyte of the Medicinal Plant Erythrina crista-galli / THE JOURNAL OF ANTIBIOTICS / VOL. 57 NO. 9, SEPT. 2004

Erythrina crista-galli L. / Synonyms / The Plant List
Sorting Erythrina names / /Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1995 - 2020 / A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The University of Melbourne. Australia

Biosynthesis of Erythrina alkaloids in Erythrina crista-galli / Ulrich H. Maier, Wolfgang Rodl, Brigitte Deus-Neumann, Meinhart H. Zenk* / Phytochemistry 52 (1999) 373±382
Search for active metabolites of Erythrina crista-galli and its endophyte Phomopsis sp. / F. Redko, M. Clavin, D. Weber, T. Anke and V. Martino / Molecular Medicinal Chemistry, Vol 10, May-Aug 2006, 24-26
Synthesis pterocarpan compounds from Erythrina crista-galli L and their action towards Plasmodium falciparum / Tjitjik Sri Tjahjandarie*, Ratih Dewi Saputri and Mulyadi Tanjung / Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 2015, 7(1):666-670
Antimalarial and antioxidant activity of phenolic compounds isolated from Erythrina crista-galli L. / Tjitjik Srie Tjahjandarie*, Pratiwi Pudjiastuti, Ratih Dewi Saputri and Mulyadi Tanjung / Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 2014, 6(4):786-790
Lectin from Erythrina cristagalli Supports Undifferentiated Growth and Differentiation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells / Milla Mikkola et al / STEM CELLS AND DEVELOPMENT Volume 22, Number 5, 2013

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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