Bauhinia variegata

Bauhinia variegata L.

Common Names: Orchid Tree, Mountain Ebony, Poor Man’s Orchid

Family: Fabaceae

Habit: Bauhinia variegata grows as a tree up to 10 m in height. The simple leaves are arranged alternately, to 10 cm in length, cordate to orbicular with a notched/bilobed leaf apex. The petioles have a slightly swollen pulvinus.

The complete, perfect, zygomorphic flowers are arranged in axillary and terminal racemes. The calyx has 5 greenish, fused, oblong sepals forming a short tube. The corolla has 5 pink/white/purple (sometimes mottled), unfused petals, none of which form a keel.  There are up to 10 stamens (5 fertile, 1-5 sterile).  The ovary is superior and forms a flat brown legume with 10-20 seeds.

Habitat: Bauhinia variegata grows in Human Altered environments (yards and gardens) as well as edges of Pine Woodlands and Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formations – Forests/Shrublands (coppice).

Distribution: Bauhinia variegata is NOT native to the Lucayan Archipelago but does occur on many of the island groupings.  It is native to Southeast Asia but is grown around the world in tropical and subtropical areas. It is considered a NON-NATIVE INVASIVE.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Bauhinia variegata is not known to be used in the Lucayan Archipelago.  It is grown as an ornamental for its showy flowers.