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

Image: Flowers

Bauhinia variegata is native to southeastern Asia, from southern China west to India. Common names include Orchid tree and Mountain-ebony.

A small to medium-sized tree to 12m, 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

Image: Form (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