|DESCRIPTION: It is a tree usually reaching 10-15 m in height but can become 26 m tall. The crown is rounded and the trunk short, spiny (spines 1-2 cm long), much branched, sometimes buttressed to 2 m. Bark brownish-grey or olive-brown, flaky. Leaves alternate, trifoliate. Inflorescence racemose, terminal, appearing when leaves are present, with pale brick-red or salmon flowers. USE: The young leaves are eaten as a vegetable in Java and Bali, and the flowers in Guatemala. Leaves are used as fodder. The presence of ant-repellent compounds in the nectar has been reported. The bark is used as a poultice on fresh wounds, and bark or root decoctions against beriberi. It is planted as a shade tree in cocoa and coffee plantations, for reforestation, as living fence and as an ornamental. Where rainfall is irregular and sometimes below 1000 mm per year, it has been noted to persist in prolonged drought without losing its leaves, recirculating nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium from prunings. It is therefore a promising species for agroforestry systems in such areas where it would be intercropped with maize and cassava. GROWING PERIOD: Perennial. COMMON NAMES: coral bean, purple coral-tree. FURTHER INF: It is a pioneer species, most commonly found on the outer margins of swamps on sites that are not permanently flooded. It seems to prefer littoral locations with badly drained soils like swamps and stream banks and upland riverine marshes. In an experiment, it has shown good performance in acid soils of pH 4.3 and aluminum saturation of 80%.