Unmistakable whether in flower or not. This very widespread coastal tree is found in tropical shores all over the Pacific and Asia and is famously known as the Coral Tree. So many characters distinguish this small tree. The seaside habitat is one, although I have seen it planted at around 900m above sea level and it doesn’t seem like it has a problem adapting. The leaves are another. It has a relatively large compound leaf with three leaflets (up to 20cm or so long) which are very broadly ovate, almost heart-shaped. It is deciduous at some point of the year between around July to October. It often flowers during this period when it is leafless but not necessarily so. When it flowers it is a wonderful sight to behold – a tree laden with bunches of scarlet long and almost tubular looking blossoms. Such blossoms almost call out to flower-lovers. It seems to say, pick me, but then it has conical prickles on the trunk which is a first warning – do not pick with bare hands. And then of course, the twigs are full of thorns.
I forgot that, despite having known this tree for a large portion of my life. What ensued is history.
My fingers now bear the reminders of the power of this tree. As I walked away from the tree then without a sprig of flowers, and my blood flowing freely. I realized then, I did not pick it. It picked me!