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A leaf with a fishbone pattern

December 14, 2012

If you treasure leaves then you may have enjoyed our blogs about the ducksfoot and the golden leaf bauhinia. Another spectacular leaf in a Thai monsoon garden is that of the ‘Indian coral-tree’ or ‘thong lang lai’ (Erythrina variegata, Fabaceae):

Erythrina variegata.leaf.72

At Dokmai Garden we grow this tree for the beauty of its leaves, although at times you see red or white flowers depending on cultivar. Currently I establish trees of both colours nearby each other. Bear in mind the tree is deciduous.

It is fast growing and easy to establish from cuttings if planted in full sun. Being a native around the Indian Ocean and northern Australia it is good to leave it dry for some time during the cool season. Monsoon plants may develop rots if they are treated as rainforest plants.

The bark is a necessary ingredient for making a special plant dye.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2012 1:26 AM

    Hawaii has at least one endemic Erythrina, and many exotic species are cultivated. Link to this article ( for an interesting story about an invasive gall wasp almost wiped out Erythrina in Hawaii and how scientists found a predator of the gall wasp that seems to have saved the genus in Hawaii. For a while the picture was grim: I saw gigantic Erythrina skeletons in botanical gardens; now some of them are coming back, sprouting new leaves. Things still look iffy, but I think Erythrina in Hawaii may survive after all.

  2. Neil permalink
    October 3, 2016 9:11 PM

    There is one of these growing at the petrol station/7-eleven on the east side of Canal Rd about 1km south of Doi Suthep Rd.

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