kaffirboom, noun

Forms:
caffer-boom, caffir boomShow more Also caffer-boom, caffir boom, kaffir boem, and with initial capital.
Plurals:
kaffirbooms, kaffirbome /ˈkæfəbʊəmə/, and (formerly) kaffirboomen.
Origin:
South African DutchShow more South African Dutch kafferboom, kaffer see kaffir + boom tree; the explanation in quotation 1972 is probably folk etymology.
obsolescent, offensive
The coral tree Erythrina caffra of the Fabaceae, a tall, spreading, deciduous tree with bright scarlet flowers and seeds; its soft wood; boer-bean sense 1; corallodendron; also called lucky bean tree (see lucky bean sense 2 b). Also attributive.
Note:
As ‘kaffirboom’ is offensive to many, the general English name ‘coral tree’ is often preferred.
1824 T. Pringle Some Account of Eng. Settlers in Albany 8They pitched their tents under the shade of fragrant acacias, and groves of the gorgeous-blossomed caffer-boom.
1827 G. Thompson Trav. 31The stakes of this fence, consisting chiefly of Caffer-boom (Erythrina Caffra)..had in numerous instances struck root, and thrown out flourishing branches, which gave the palisade an uncommon and agreeable effect.
1835 Graham’s Town Jrnl 20 Aug.Thatch ought never to be used on the frontier, if tiles, or Kafirboom shingles, can be obtained.
1836 A.F. Gardiner Journey to Zoolu Country 158The Kafir Boom..throws out short bossy thorns on every part of the trunk and branches..the blossom..appearing at the ends of the twigs like a shuttle-cock with crimson feathers.
1851 R.J. Garden Diary. I. (Killie Campbell Africana Library MS29081) 3 JulyWe passed trees of great height, amongst them Caffir Boomen.
1878 T.J. Lucas Camp Life & Sport 133The Kaffir ‘boem’, with which the streets are adorned, is a very beautiful tree. The flower, which is bright scarlet, almost dazzles one’s eyes to look at.
1881 Meteor 31 Oct. 1High rock-crowned hills..their bases thickly wooded with Kafir boom, yellow-wood, Kafir plum trees.
1887 S.W. Silver & Co.’s Handbk to S. Afr. 135Kaffir-boom..wood soft and light.
1887 S.W. Silver & Co.’s Handbk to S. Afr. 150It is impossible to avoid making mention of the Kaffirboom, Erythrina Caffra, with its splendid clusters of scarlet flowers.
1895 A.B. Balfour 1200 Miles in Waggon 170The Kaffir-booms, with their magnificent scarlet flowers, look gorgeous when growing..among the boulders.
1911 D.B. Hook ’Tis but Yesterday 145They halted under the shade of a Kaffir-boom tree.
1937 M. Alston Wanderings 154The Kaffir-boom bursts forth in all its brilliance.
1949 Cape Argus 15 Oct. 4The Alexandria forests, red with giant kaffir-booms.
1954 U. Van der Spuy Ornamental Shrubs & Trees 117The Kaffirboom..is admirably suited..to line the streets of towns, or as an avenue tree.
1964 A. Rothmann Elephant Shrew 19Two large, spreading kaffirbooms.
1972 S. Afr. Garden & Home Oct. 145The Kaffirboom..so called because its bright red fowers..resemble the red blankets worn by the Xhosas in the area.
1980 Daily Dispatch 20 Aug. 11The wood of the kafirboom is soft and fibrous...In the old days it was the standard timber for the huge brake blocks of the buck wagons.
1989 E. Prov. Herald 11 Jan. 8The beans of the vivid orange-flowering Erythrina caffra..(formerly Kaffirboom) are needed in medical research...An enzyme extracted from them is used to isolate a remarkably quick anticlotting device.
1992 Weekend Post 31 Oct. 9Kaffir beer had been largely replaced by sorghum beer, kafferboom by coral tree, [etc.].
The coral tree Erythrina caffra of the Fabaceae, a tall, spreading, deciduous tree with bright scarlet flowers and seeds; its soft wood; boer-bean1; corallodendron; also called lucky bean treelucky bean2 b. Also attributive.
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18241992