Bean Tree ("Ininti") - Erythrina vespertlio (Grey Corkwood, Bat's Wing Coral Tree)

Monday, Nov 23, 2015 at 21:02


This is a fascinating tree that produces a bright red seed the shape of a kidney bean. The ground around the trees is littered with countless scarlet seeds.The Bean Tree (Erythrina vespertilio) is native to north and north-east Australia. Its common names are Grey Corkwood, Bat's Wing Coral Tree ( because of its very distinctive trifoliate leaves), Sturt's Bean Tree and the more ambiguous "Bean Tree". In the Western Desert language it is also known as ‘Ininti’. It was traditionally used by Aboriginal Australians in Central Australia for making woomeras and coolamons. The Warlpiri, among others, would use the wood to make shields, used either for warfare or ceremonially. These shields could then be used for making fire with the friction method.

The bark is also considered to have traditional medicinal uses as a sedative and like all the Ethrina species, it contains varying amounts of alkaloids including erythrane, erythroidine and coralline. Leaves are said to produce a sedative state when eaten, and the flowers have been used as a tea to induce sleep. Not something I’d recommend trying though! The scientific name 'Erythrina' is derived from the Greek word 'erythros', and refers to the red flowers and seeds, which are so distinctive for this species.

''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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