Erythrina species – Coral trees


Erythrina flabelliformis, flower and bark


Erythrinas are woody shrubs or small trees of the family of the leguminosae, which grow in tropical America, Texas and California. The exact species is unknown; Erythrina flabelliformis is probably one of them. Presumably those are several species with similar effects.

Erythrina flabelliformis bean


Use: The red beans, that supposedly were used in smallest amounts (1/4–1/2 seeds) by indigenous Mexicans.

Active constituents: A multitude of Erythrina-alkaloids, among others scoulerine, erysodine and erysovine.


Effects: Hallucinations, narcotic, strong sexual stimulation.

Side Effects: Extremely blood pressure increasing, paralysing. It is reported that after the intake euphoria, then inebriation, a day later fever, then a deep sleep and on the second or third day death occurs. Since neither a safe dose, nor the correct botanic description of the used plant are known, and since many Erythrinas are already lethal in small amounts, it is strongly advised not to use these plants. What makes it more difficult is that similar looking seeds of very different, in extreme cases deadly poisonous plants, are available in the market. A correct determination is not possible for the layman (that applies to some “experts” as well).

Miscellaneous: Schmidtbauer/Scheidt deny that the Erythrinas possess a psychotropic effect; Reko reports in detail of their effects and also Geschwinde, who seems the most trustworthy. He gives also corresponding hints to hallucinogenic and aphrodisiac effects. Partly responsible for the confusion is that the likewise red seed of another psychotropic plant, the Sophora secundiflora (see there), is also named “Colorines”.

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