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Erythrina zeyheri00a

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fabales

Familia: Fabaceae
Subfamilia: Faboideae
Tribus: Phaseoleae
Subtribus: Erythrininae
Genus: Erythrina
Subgenus: E. subg. Erythrina
Sectio: E. sect. Humeanae
Species: Erythrina zeyheri

Erythrina zeyheri Harv. in Harv. & Sond., Fl. Cap. 2: 236. 1862.


Harvey, W.H. in Harvey, W.H. & Sonder, O.W. 1862. Flora Capensis 2: 236.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Erythrina zeyheri in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 07-Oct-06.

Erythrina zeyheri, commonly known as the ploughbreaker, is a deciduous, geoxylic subshrub and member of the Fabaceae, which is endemic to southern Africa. It grows no more than 60 cm tall[1] and occurs naturally in the higher altitude grasslands of South Africa's central plateau, and that of adjacent Lesotho.[2] They favour deep clay soil in the vicinity of creeks and marshes, and often form colonies.[1] Its specific name commemorates the 19th century botanist, Karl Zeyher.

1 Description
2 Foodplant
3 Gallery
4 References
5 External links


It is a geoxylic plant, sometimes called an "underground tree",[3] that produces annual stems, some 50 to 60 cm long.[4] It has glabrous, leathery, trifoliolate leaves with large leaflets. The rachis and main leaf venation, which are prominently raised below, are armed with recurved spines on both leaf surfaces.[5] The petioles and stems are likewise armed to discourage browsers. The shoots and leaves are deciduous, dying away during harsh highveld winters,[1] when the plant survives as an extensive woody, tuberous rootstock.

The upright inflorescences appear in summer, with the leaves,[4] from October to January.[1] The drooping scarlet, or rarely white flowers,[5] are capped by a red calyxes. Their fruit are smooth black pods when mature, each containing a few large (1.0 to 1.7 cm long) seeds.[4] These are hard and orange-red in colour.[1][5]

It is a foodplant for the moth Terastia margaritis.[6]

Abaxial leaf surface armed with recurved spines on main veins

The perennial tuberous rootstock

Green pods and seed


Elliot Lithudzha; K Behr. "Erythrina zeyheri". South African National Biodiversity Institute. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
Reports of its occurrence in Botswana and Zimbabwe are suspect, see: "Erythrina latissima E. Mey. (Notes)". Flora Zambesiaca. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
Barras, Colin. "Why some trees evolved to live underground". BBC. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
Schmidt, Ernst; Lötter, Mervyn; McCleland, Warren (2002). Trees and shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park. Johannesburg: Jacana Media. p. 488. ISBN 9781919777306.
van Wyk, Braam; et al. (1988). Veldgids tot die Veldblomme van die Witwatersrand en Pretoria. Cape Town: Struik. pp. 206–207. ISBN 0-86977-815-3.
Goff, R. "Terastia margaritis". African Moths. Retrieved 21 December 2012.

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