This is sixth post in the Native Trees of Pakistan series. Today, I am featuring one of my favorite trees, the Bauhinia tree.
Bauhinia tree also known as Mountain Ebony, Purple Orchid tree or simply Orchid tree is an excellent specimen tree that you can grow in your landscapes, lawn or backyards. It is a hardy and fast growing tree and produces spectacular flowers of magenta, mauve, pink or white hues with crimson marking during the flowering season that usually occurs in winter. When the orchid tree is in bloom, it spreads a delicate fragrance all around.
An orchid tree in full bloom with its sweet scent on a winter evening is simply a lovely retreat.
Orchid tree has many species; the most common are Bauhinia Variegata, Bauhinia Purpurea, Bauhinia Tomentosa, Bauhinia Racemosa, Bauhinia Monandra and Bauhinia Acuminaia. All of these species bear colorful flowers ranging from purple, mauve, white or pink. The leaves form the shape of twin-kidney. Orchid tree usually sheds its leaves in winter though some species do not. During this period, the branches are covered with buds and sweetly-scented flowers.
Flowering is followed by the formation of seed pods that ripe in summer and then burst to spread seeds. The seeds are poisonous. The most popular species of Orchid tree in Pakistan is Bauhinia variegate where it is known as Kachnar tree and grown for its buds that are pickled or used as vegetable. The timber is used as firewood or for making fences. The bark is used to cure diarrhea.
Orchid tree can be grown easily from seeds or cuttings. The plant grows well in acidic soil and does not tolerate salty conditions. It loves full sun but can be grown under partial sun. Orchid tree prefers generously watering in summer and moderate moisture in winter.
Orchid tree belongs to the Fabaceae family was named Bauhinia after 16th Century herbalists Jan and Caspar Bauhin who were twin-brothers.