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Products > Bauhinia x blakeana
Bauhinia x blakeana - Hong Kong Orchid Tree

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  
Image of Bauhinia x blakeana
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Caesalpiniaceae (~Fabales)
Origin: China (Asia)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Magenta
Bloomtime: Fall/Spring
Parentage: (B. purpurea x B. variegata)
Height: 12-20 feet
Width: 15-20 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Bauhinia x blakeana (Hong Kong Orchid Tree) - This semi-deciduous small tree grows to about 20 feet tall with a light gray smooth bark and an umbrella-shape habit. It has large and thick gray-green double lobed leaves that can be up to 4 inches long by 5 inches wide with rich rose-purple fragrant flowers with pink stamens; like the leaves, the flowers of this plant are larger than on other Bauhinia (5-6 inches in diameter!) and a held over a much longer period, often starting in fall and extending to mid spring. It is also sterile so it does not set seed pods. This tree can be drought deciduous in dry soils, cold deciduous in the event of a frost but even in irrigated warmer locations will drop some of its leaves in spring just as it begins to flower and can sometimes be seen in bloom completely devoid of leaves so that the flowers are even more noticeable.

Plant in full sun in a relatively well drained soil and irrigate regularly to occasionally. It is tolerate of light frosts and temperatures down to 25 F (or even a bit lower if short term). A great tree for fairly frost free areas with flowers that are very attractive to humans and hummingbirds and even as they drop, make a colorful groundcover. Prune to shape in early years to develop a nice rounded form.

Bauhinia x blakeana comes from China, though there are conflicting stories as to its exact origins. One story is that it was discovered in or around 1880 near the ruins of a house along the western Hong Kong Island shore-line near the residential area of Pok Fu Lam. The other story is that it was discovered by monks from the cathedral at Canton (now Guangzhou) on mainland China who noted it growing near a house along a nearby seashore and from there it was reportedly brought to Hong Kong in 1908, where a specimen was established at the Hong Kong Botanic Gardens. All of the cultivated trees in the world come from this one tree.

This plant was named for Sir Henry Blake, the Governor of Hong Kong from 1898 to 1903 and is now the official floral emblem of Hong Kong. The parents of this hybrid are probably B. purpurea (native from India to the Malay Peninsula) and B. variegata (from eastern Asia). The name "Bauhinia" was a name given this genus by Linnaeus to honor the twin brothers Johann and Gaspard Bauhin, who were 16th century Swiss scientists - Johann was a botanist and Gaspard a botanist and physician. Using the name of these identical twin is fitting as Bauhinia leaves are composed of two identical lobes. We grew this grafted tree at our nursery since listing it in our first catalog in 1980 and only stopped when the nurseries we purchased the grafted plants from stopped producing it. 

This information about Bauhinia x blakeana displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.