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Bauhinia forficata - Link

Common Name Brazilian Orchid Tree
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Atlantic rainforest, most commonly in secondary formations and only occasionally in dense primary forest, favouring the rich moist soils of the alluvial plains[ 419 ].
Range S. America - Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, southern and eastern Brazil, Bolivia.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Bauhinia forficata Brazilian Orchid Tree


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Bauhinia forficata Brazilian Orchid Tree
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Summary

Brazilian orchard tree - Bauhinia forficata, is a fast-growing, pioneer species. It is a spiny, deciduous or semi-deciduous tree that grows up to 5-9m tall. It has an open and irregular crown and a usually crooked bole up to 30-40cm in diameter. It has a nitrogen-fixing capacity. The leaf of Brazilian orchid tree has been known as remedy for diabetes. It is also an anticholesterolemic , blood purifier, diuretic, hypoglycaemic, and tonic. The wood is soft and moderately heavy, and used for fuel and charcoal making.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Bauhinia forficata is a deciduous Tree growing to 12 m (39ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is not frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Bauhinia candicans Benth.

Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses: Tea

Leaves (see medicinal uses). An infusion of the leaves is drunk regularly after meals for its health benefits, whilst it is also drunk specifically in the treatment of diabetes, high blood sugar levels, kidney and urinary disorders, to reduce blood cholesterol levels and as a general tonic and blood purifier[ 318 ].

References

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibacterial  Anticholesterolemic  Antidiarrhoeal  Blood purifier  Diuretic  Hypoglycaemic  Kidney  Skin  
Tonic

Brazilian orchid tree leaf has become very popular as a treatment for diabetes ever since research carried out in the 1920's demonstrated its ability to reduce blood sugar levels. The leaves contain a range of compounds including flavonoids, alkaloids, and glycosides. Various trials have been carried out into the health benefits of the leaves, particularly the hypoglycaemic activity. Whilst most of these trials have been positive, at least one was unable to discern positive benefits[ 318 , 739 ]. The main plant compounds in the plant include astragalin, bauhinoside, beta-sitosterol, flavonols, flavonoids, glycosides, guanidine, heteroglycosides, kaempferitrin, organic acids, quercitrosides, rhamnose, and saponins[ 318 ]. Astragalin has well-proven antibacterial activity[ 318 ]. Kaempferitrin, a flavonoid, has been shown to significantly lower blood sugar levels, to have diuretic activity and to help repair kidney cell damage[ 318 ]. The leaves are anticholesterolemic, blood purifier, diuretic, hypoglycaemic and tonic[ 318 , 739 ]. An infusion is drunk regularly after meals for its health benefits, whilst it is also drunk specifically in the treatment of diabetes, high blood sugar levels, kidney and urinary disorders, to reduce blood cholesterol levels and as a general tonic and blood purifier[ 318 ]. Other conditions that have been treated with the leaves include central nervous system disorders, diarrhoea, elephantiasis, intestinal worms, leprosy, obesity, skin disorders, snakebite and syphilis[ 318 ].

References

Now available: PLANTS FOR YOUR FOOD FOREST: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens.

An important new book from PFAF. It focuses on the attributes of plants suitable for food forests, what each can contribute to a food forest ecosystem, including carbon sequestration, and the kinds of foods they yield. The book suggests that community and small-scale food forests can provide a real alternative to intensive industrialised agriculture, and help to combat the many inter-related environmental crises that threaten the very future of life on Earth.

Read More

FOOD FOREST PLANTS

Other Uses

Containers  Pioneer  Wood

Other uses rating: Medium (3/5). Agroforestry Uses: A fast-growing, pioneer species that also fix atmospheric nitrogen (some disagreement - see Cultivation below), it can be used in reforestation projects and, with its small size and fairly open crown, is suitable for use in the first stages of a woodland garden[ 419 , K ]. Other Uses The wood is moderately heavy, soft, of low durability when exposed to the elements. Too small and of low quality for applications other than making lightboxes, light workmanship etc[ 419 ]. Whole trunks and branches are used for fuel and to make charcoal[ 419 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer

References

Cultivation details

Brazilian orchid tree is found from the subtropical to the tropical zones. Prefers a sunny position[ 419 ]. Succeeds in a range of soils so long as they are well-drained[ 309 ]. Tolerant of acidic soils[ 309 ]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[ 309 ]. A fast-growing young plant, able to reach a height of 3.5 metres within 2 years from seed[ 419 ]. The wood can be rather weak, leading to branches breaking[ 309 ]. Although many species within the family Fabaceae have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, this species is said to be devoid of such a relationship and therefore does not fix atmospheric nitrogen[ 755 ].

References

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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Propagation

Seed - it has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing. Seed the seed in a partially shaded position in individual containers. A germination rate of around 30% can be expected from untreated seeds, with the seed sprouting within 15 - 25 days[ 419 ]. They should be ready to plant out less than 6 months later. Cuttings. Layering. Suckers.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Brazilian orchard treeüBauhinia forficata

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Coming Soon

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Least Concern

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Bauhinia vahliiMalu Creeper, Adda Leaf, Pahur Camel's Foot CreeperClimber20.0 7-11 FLMHNM234
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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.

 

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Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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