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branches stuck in the ground will sprout. Grafted trees begin producing seeds within 1–2 years of planting.

Small birds are the normal pollinators. The brilliant red flowers provide a rich and abundant nectar, an important food and water source for the birds at certain times of the year.

HARVESTING AND HANDLING

Although basul pods come from trees, they are harvested and processed much like beans. As with most legumes, the pods mature at slightly different times, and several pickings are necessary. However, unlike most plants, basul yields seasonal harvests twice a year. A single tree can yield as much as 200 kg of seed each year.

As the seeds dry out, they pull away from the pod wall and can be readily removed.

LIMITATIONS

Care must be taken to ensure that one is dealing with the right species. In some places the common name “basul” is applied to species other than Erythrina edulis. This could lead to a serious mistake, because the seeds of many other Erythrina species are poisonous even when cooked. (However, these are small and hard and are unlikely to be confused by knowledgeable people.) As already noted, they cannot be eaten raw.

The seeds are said to be rarely used in soups because they darken the soup and can give it a bitter flavor. (This is perhaps because of interaction with the metal pot.)

All Erythrina species are susceptible to insect borers that invade the heartwood. Proper care (and perhaps use of pesticides) can prevent the young trees from being destroyed. As the tree ages it seems to become resistant to the borers.

Basul is susceptible to extended droughts. (Grafting it onto Erythrina falcata rootstock greatly increases its drought tolerance.3 )

RESEARCH NEEDS

Among research topics for this species are the following.

Baseline Survey Traditional production methods should be surveyed and analyzed. Topics for investigation include planting density, pest control, pruning, harvesting, and tree maintenance.


3 Information from I. Peralta V.


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