Cardinal Spear (Erythrina herbacea)

Perennial
E. arborea. Small.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Cardinal Spear
Erythrina herbacea
Leguminosae

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    The plant is narcotic and purgative[200].

    A cold infusion of the root has been used to treat bowel pain in women[257].

    A decoction of the roots or berries has been used to treat nausea, constipation and blocked urination[257].

    A decoction of the ‘beans’ or inner bark has been used as a body rub and steam for numb, painful limbs and joints[257].

    A decoction of the leaves has been used as a general tonic[257].

  • Edible Use

    Flowers – cooked. An acceptable vegetable when boiled[183]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

    Young leaves – occasionally cooked and eaten[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The plant contains alkaloids that have powerful narcotic and purgative effects[200]. The seeds contain numerous toxic alkaloids, including erysodine and erysopine. They have an action similar to curare and have been used as a rat poison[274].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[200]. Overwinter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring or early summer. Heeled cuttings of young growth in the spring in a frame[200]. Overwinter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring or early summer.
Requires a moderately fertile well-drained soil in a very sunny position[200]. Best if given the protection of an east, south or south-west facing wall[200]. Becoming a tree in the south of its range, this species is shrubby or even herbaceous towards the limits of its northerly range[229]. It is not very hardy outdoors in Britain though the rootstock can tolerate temperatures down to about -10¡c provided the stem bases are thickly mulched with organic matter such as leaf litter or sawdust and covered with bracken[200]. Alternatively, the roots can be lifted in the autumn and stored in a cool frost-free place, replanting in the spring. Plants take 3 – 4 years to flower from seed[200]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200].
South-eastern N. America – North Carolina to Texas.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.