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Bauhinia variegata - L.

Common Name Mountain Ebony
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Open valleys with good loamy soil at elevations of 150 - 1800 metres[272].
Range E. Asia - Pakistan to S. China.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Bauhinia variegata Mountain Ebony

Bauhinia variegata Mountain Ebony


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Bauhinia variegata is a deciduous Tree growing to 12 m (39ft 4in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses:

The young leaves, flowers and fruits are boiled and eaten as a vegetable, or are pickled[272].

References   More on Edible Uses

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.
Alterative  Anthelmintic  Astringent  Dysentery  Tonic

The bark is alterative, anthelmintic, astringent and tonic[243, 272]. The juice of the bark is used in the treatment of amoebic dysentery, diarrhoea and other stomach disrders[272]. A paste of the bark is useful in the treatment of cuts and wounds, skin diseases, scrofula and ulcers[243, 272]. The dried buds are used in the treatment of piles, dysentery, diarrhoea and worms[243]. The juice of the flowers is used to treat diarrhoea, dysentery and other stomach disorders[272]. The root is used as an antidote to snake poison[243]. A decoction of the root is used to treat dyspepsia[243].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
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Other Uses

Dye  Fodder  Tannin  Wood

The bark is a source of tannins. It is used for dyeing[272]. Wood - used for house construction and making household implements[272]. A very popular ornamental tree in subtropical and tropical climates, grown for its scented flowers. The leaves, shoots and pods of B. variegata are used as fodder for livestock, including sheep, goats and cattle. Average leaf yield from a mature tree is about 20-22 kg fresh weight per annum. Erosion control or dune stabilization, Shade and shelter, Windbreak. Fuels:Charcoal, Fuelwood.

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a fertile, moisture-retentive but well-drained soil, requiring a warm sheltered position in full sun[200, 260]. When grown in warm Temperate zones, this species can withstand short periods of temperatures as low as -5°c[200]. In Britain, it is only likely to succeed outdoors in the very mildest parts of the country, and even then would probably require the protection of a south-facing wall. There are some cultivars, developed for their ornamental value[200]. 243034

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water then sow in mid spring in a greenhouse. When large enough t handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in early summer, after the last expected frosts and consider giving some protection from the cold for their first winter or two outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, with the leaves removed, in moist sand July/August in a frame[200]. Gentle bottom heat is usually required. Layering.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Buddhist bauhinia; butterfly tree; kachnar; orchid tree; paper mulberry; pink orchid tree; poor man's orchid; purple orchid tree. Spanish: gorro de Napoleón; mariposa; orchidea de pobre; orquidea de palo; puente de mono. French: arbre à orchidées; arbre de Saint-Thomas; bois de boeuf; sabot boeuf. Chinese: yang zi jing. Portuguese: árvore-de-São-Thomaz. Bangladesh: rakta-kamhar; swet-kanchan. Brazil: unha-de-vacca. Cuba: bauhinia. Dominican Republic: flamboyán; orquídea. Haiti: flamboyant. India: bahari kachnar; barial; bogakatra; bondantam; borara; botantam; chemmandarei; chuvanna-mandara; devakanchanaman; deva-kanchanmu; guiral; kachan; kachnar; kaliar; kanarai; kanchanar; kanchavala; kanchavalado; khwairai; kotava; kotidaram; kotora; kovidara; kurol; mandari; padrian; rakta-kamhar; raktha-kanchan; segapu-manchori; swet-kanchan; tamrapushpi; thaur Malaysia: akbar tapak kerbau; kotidaram; kupu-kupu. Nepal: koiralo. Pakistan: kachnar. Puerto Rico: palo de orquídeas.

Native: China (Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Yunnan, Zhejiang); Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Thailand; Viet Nam. Introduced: Bahamas; Brazil; Colombia; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Dominican Republic; El Salvador; Ethiopia; Fiji; Ghana; Grenada; Haiti; Indonesia; Iraq; Kenya; Malawi; Malaysia; Mauritius; Mexico; Mozambique; Nigeria; Norfolk Island; Panama; Papua New Guinea; Puerto Rico; Saint Lucia; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China (Taiwan, Province of China (main island) - Native); Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; United States; Zambia; Zimbabwe. Present - origin uncertain: Bangladesh; Bhutan; Hong Kong; India; Nepal; Pakistan; Tonga

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.

Once established, B. variegata This plant can be weedy or invasive. Often become weedy and it has the potential to displace native vegetation. It is also difficult to manage because its seeds can remain viable for more than a year [1d]. In the US it is a noted weed in Florida.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Least Concern.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
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Bauhinia thonningiiCamel's foot tree, monkey breadTree5.0 10-12 MLMHNDM323
Bauhinia vahliiMalu Creeper, Adda Leaf, Pahur Camel's Foot CreeperClimber20.0 7-11 FLMHNM234

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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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Kuldip Krishan   Tue Mar 22 04:00:10 2005

In India, this plant known as Kachnar in Hindi and Kanchnar in Sanskrit. The buds of the flowers are used for vegetable dish and the plant is also used in Ayurvedic medicines.

   Jul 30 2011 12:00AM

Kanchanar is a major herb in Ayurvedic medicine with many benefits depending on the plant part used. Nearly all parts -- buds, flowers, leaves, stems, bark, root, etc. -- are used. Kanchanar Guggulu is an important member of the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia. It uses the stem bark and is often given as a treatment for lymphadenitis and goitre.

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