Kool & Kooky Tambookie - Erythrina acanthocarpa

 |Erythrina acanthocarpa floral detail|

|Erythrina acanthocarpa floral detail|

What on earth do we have here!? Have you ever seen such sensationally striking shapes and color before? Seeing these strange and mysterious petals of paradise might give you whiplash.  Let me introduce you to Erythrina acanthocarpa also known as Tambookie Thorn.  Erythrina acanthocarpa comes to us from the florific Cape of South Africa.  Its flowers are beyond amazing!

 |Erythrina acanthocarpa details|

|Erythrina acanthocarpa details|

I discovered this amazing plant with my friend and fellow plantaholic Jason D. last year.  We both nearly had heart attacks when we saw it.  Erythrina acanthocarpa is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide.  It grows from a large succulent underground root and tends to take on a rambling, thicket-like habit. In the warmer months, it outfits itself with handsome green trifoliate leaves.   Its stems and leaflets are armed with spiny thorns, so it demands to be handled with respect.  In late spring and early summer, amongst all of its fortification, spectacular, pyramid-shaped, comb-like, large flower heads erupt from awakening stems.  As the buds form knife-like flowers and take shape, they adorn this shrub's network of sprawling stems with a breathtaking blaze of color!

After flowering, Erythrina acanthocarpa form some crazy kooky seedpods covered with pointed prickles.  Think twisted, spiked dill-pickle.  It is said that some use the brown seeds inside as a charm against evil.  Get behind me satan, I say!   If that's not enough street cred for you to see how cool this plant is, then I don't know what is!

If you've got some room to grow something as cool as this here's what it needs...full sun, well-draining, gritty soil, low water in the warm months, and kept on the dry side in winter.  It's drought tolerant once established and can also handle pruning to keep it looking awesome and in control.  Hardiness is down to 25 degrees fahrenheit/-3 degrees celsius.  Crazy form, supercool flowers, kryptonite to evil doers, and drought tolerant, what else could you ask for?  It's as kooky as it is cool!