This medium-sized deciduous tree has similarities to the cultivated Common coral tree, however, is much more invasive by both seeds and vegetative fragments.
Native to South America, Cockspur coral tree spreads readily from cultivated areas to create dense thickets along waterways, floodplains and roadsides. Trees are covered in sharp, hooked thorns on the trunk and all stems, and are very brittle, presenting a significant hazard to people and animals. Their spread reduces available habitat and has negative impacts on soil health.
Cockspur coral tree usually grows to 6 metres, although larger specimens can be found near older homes. It’s stems are green and shiny when young, becoming grey and rough with age. Prickles are found on all stems. Leaves consist of three oval-shaped smooth leaflets, 3-6cm long and 2-5cm wide on a long stalk. They are bright green and hairless. It produces large, scarlet-red flowers in dense clusters, prominent in Spring. Flowers are followed by large, curved pods containing several bean-like seeds.
Cockspur coral tree is a priority weed on the North Coast. It should be eradicated when detected but can reshoot vigorously when cut. Follow-up control is essential, and any stems left on the ground are capable of regrowing. It cannot be sold or traded in this region.
Further information and control options are detailed in the NSW WeedWise app, which is free to download, or on the website here: NSW WeedWise
If you find this weed on your property, Council’s Biosecurity Officer is happy to provide advice to help you bring this nasty weed under control.