“wiliwili”: Erythrina sandwicensis grows 35 to 45 feet tall and has about the same diameter. In cultivation, it is generally smaller, growing to 30 feet tall and 25 feet in width. The trunk and branches have a few short spines growing on them. These spines become less noticeable as the plant ages.
Erythrina sandwicensis is one of Hawaii’s few deciduous native trees. It loses its leaves during the summer in order to conserve water and puts out new leaves in the fall. Each leaf has three round to triangular shaped leaflets. Each leaflet is up to 3 inches long. Erythrina sandwicensis blooms after the leaves fall in the summer making the flower clusters very showy. Flowering time can be variable, occurring during the summer through November. The curved, claw-shaped flowers are 1 to 2 inches long and grow in bunches at the ends of the branches. They are generally orange, but there are forms with red, salmon, peach, and light green, yellow, or white flowers.