Bauhinia variegata (FABACEAE) Bauhinia, Orchid Tree, Purple Orchid Tree, Mountain Ebony

Weeds to Whack

Bauhinia variegata is native to south-eastern Asia, from southern China west to India. Common names include Orchid Tree and Mountain Ebony. A small to medium-sized tree to 12 m, deciduous in the dry season. Leaves to 20 cm long are broad, rounded, and bilobed at the base and apex. Flowers are conspicuous, bright pink or white, 8-12 cm diameter, with five petals. The fruit is a pod 15-30 cm long, containing several seeds.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Form While Flowering

Readily escapes into creeklines from gardens and from street trees. Named for Gaspard and Jean Bauhin, 16th century physicians and botanists, pronunced boh-HIN-ee-uh. About 600 species of Bauhinia grow in the tropical regions of the world. The genus includes trees, vines, and shrubs frequently planted for their showy flowers. Has escaped and naturalized in the southern foothills of Puerto Rico and throughout the West Indies.
Photo: Robert Whyte