Bauhinia variegata

Accession Count: 6
Common Name: Purple Orchid Tree
Family Name: Fabaceae
Botanical Name: Bauhinia variegata
Synonyms:
Botanical Synonyms: Bauhinia purpurea, Bauhinia chinesis
Sub Species: purpurea
Variety:
Forma:
Cultivar:
Characteristics: B. variegata is a fast-growing, semi-deciduous tropical tree with a spreading, low canopy. It grows between 20 to 35 feet tall and wide, and spends most of its energy during early development to establish a deep root system and high root : shoot ratio. Bark is grey-brown with a scaly surface, its slender trunk supporting a spreading, scaffold branch system. Large, orbiculate leaves are bi-lobed and emarginated with an alternate leaf arrangement. The tree’s large, purple, orchid-like flowers bloom in Spring or Winter and omit a delightful fragrance. Flowers are followed by six to 8 inch flat, narrow seed pods that green when young, and eventually turn brown in late Fall (1, 2).
Compound: Bau var pur
Geographic Origin: China
Ecozone Origin: Palearctic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: B. variegata has its origins in India and China, and is naturalized across southeast Asian. Today it is distributed in the tropics worldwide. Given its high germination rates and opportunistic nature, it has been listed as invasive in Cuba, Fiji, New Caledonia and Western Samoa (3).
Cultivation Notes: As a highly versatile tropical tree, B. variegata may tolerate intense humidity and heat, thriving well in nearly all landscapes including arid regions of southwestern United States. It is best propagated by seed and in full sun, growing best in soils that are moist and well-drained, preferring sandy, loamy, or gravelly mediums. Pruning is best done in their first few years to create structural integrity in the canopy (3).
Ethnobotany: Different plant parts of B. variegata are used in traditional Chinese medicine to cure and treat a variety of ailments; ulcers, asthma, goiter and hemorrhoids included. Leaves are used in creating a paste that treats exterior wounds as well as bug bites. Modern research has been conducted testing the validity of its anti-cancer properties, showing promising results (4, 5). The vibrant colors and fragrance of this tree make it an excellent ornamental, also making an appropriate addition to xeriscape gardens as an accent or shading tree (6).

Height: 20 - 50 feet
Width: 20 - 50 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate Growing
Grow Season: Summer
Flower Season: Spring
Color: Purple
Function: Accent
Spread: Spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Invasive
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Semi-hardy
Water Use: Moderate Water Use

Citations:
  1. Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  2. University of Florida EDIS. Retrieved November 26, 2018. 
  3. Invasive Species Compendium. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  4. Southern Illinois University. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  5. The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  6. Library of Arizona Landscape Plants. Retrieved November 26, 2018. 
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Bauhinia variegata