Orchid tree

Orchid tree

Bauhinia variegata (Fabaceae)

Common Name:

Orchid tree

Scientific Name:

Bauhinia variegata (Fabaceae)

Alternative common names:

Mountain ebony (English); Orgideeboom (Afrikaans)


The orchid tree grows up to 6-10 m high. The leaves are thick and deeply divided into two lobes approximately 100mm long. Flowers are pink blotched or striped with red, cream or purple with narrow, non-overlapping petals. Flowers from August to October and produces  dark brown pods.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?


What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 NEMBA Category 1b in KZN, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and 3 in rest of SA.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

The orchid tree is mostly found in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng

How does it spread?

Dispersal is by seeds

Why is it a problem?

The orchid tree is a competitive invader which can compete with indigenous species

What does it look like?

General description: A deciduous or semi-evergreen tree growing 6-10m high with large roundish leaves and pinkish white flowers.
Leaves: The leaves are thick and deeply divided into two lobes and 100mm long.
Flowers: Light pinkish white flowers appear during August-October.
Fruit/Seeds: Produces dark brown pods 100-300mm long.

Does the plant have any uses?

Mostly used as an ornamental plant

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