Bauhinia variegata

Accession Count: 8
Common Name: white orchid tree
Family Name: Fabaceae
Botanical Name: Bauhinia variegata
Sub Species:
Variety: candida
Characteristics: The white orchid tree can reach 25- 30 feet in height and its crown can spread 15- 25 feet. It has coarse bark and its twigs are brown and susceptible to breakage due to thinness. The deciduous leaves are green, 2-4 inches long, and have a deep cleft at the apex. Its flowers are showy and fragrant and have 5 clawed, overlapping stamens. They are creamy white to gray with dark red and yellow on the upper petal. Its fruit is an elongated pod that is about 6 -12 inches with 10-15 seeds that are dry, hard, and brown in color.
Compound: Bau var can
Geographic Origin: China
Ecozone Origin: Palearctic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: The white orchid tree is native to Southeast Asia, predominantly China but sometimes India as well. English botanist Francis Buchanan-Hamilton discovered it in 1822 while exploring China, but the white orchid has held reverence throughout Chinese culture and stands as a symbol of nobility, beauty, and innocence which has held fast for thousands of years as various dynasties cultivated the orchids as part of their culture.
Cultivation Notes: This tree can grown in full sun, partial sun, or partial shade. It tolerates soils such as clay, sand, and loam. It is highly drought tolerant, and needs little water. The tree does require some pruning for shape and health.
Ethnobotany: This tree is primarily used as an ornamental, and because of its easy-to-grow nature has become popular throughout the world.

Height: 20 - 50 feet
Width: 16 - 20 feet
Growth Rate: Fast Growing
Grow Season: Summer
Flower Season: Spring
Color: White
Function: Accent
Spread: Spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Semi-hardy
Water Use: Low water Use

1. Gilman, E., & Watson, D. Bauhinia aculeata: White Orchid-Tree. EDIS - Electronic Data Information Source - UF/IFAS Extension. Retrieved November 27, 2012, from

2. Langeland, K., & Cherry, H. Orchid tree. Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Retrieved November 27, 2012, from

3. Arizona State University. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2017. html

4. Buchanan-Hamilton, Francis. "Tropicos | Name - Bauhinia Variegata Var. Candida (Aiton) Buch.-Ham." Tropicos | Name - Bauhinia Variegata Var. Candida (Aiton) Buch.-
Ham. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2017.

5. "Bauhinia × Blakeana - Plant Finder." Bauhinia × Blakeana - Plant Finder. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2017.

6. Orchids: A View from the East." Orchids: A View From the East. Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2017.


Bauhinia variegata