red bauhinia

Bauhinia galpinii
infestation along the Brisbane River in St. Lucia (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
shrubby habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
climbing habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
stems and leaves (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
flower clusters (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
reddish flowers with five petals that have narrow bases and rounded tips (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of reddish-orange flower showing stamens and elongated ovary (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
immature fruit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
dark brown mature fruit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
young plants (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
Shrub
Alternate
Simple
Red
Orange
Green

A shrubby plant that often climbs into surrounding trees and reaches up to 5 m or more in height. Its younger branches are finely hairy while the older stems quickly become hairless. Its broad leaves (2-7 cm long) have two rounded lobes at the tip and are often folded lengthwise. Its orange to dark red flowers have five have five large petals (2.5-5 cm long) with narrow bases and broad rounded tips. Its large elongated pods (8-13 cm long and 18-28 mm wide) turn dark brown in colour as they mature.

Common names 
Also known as: red bauhinia, African orchid tree, African plume, butterfly bush, dwarf orchid tree, lowveld bauhinia, orchid tree, pride of De Kaap, red orchid tree,
Family 
Caesalpiniaceae
Deciduous 
No
Flowering time 
Spring - early Autumn
Native/Exotic 
Exotic
Origin 
Native to southern Africa.
Notifiable 
No
Council declaration 
SIL – Special Investigation List
Known distribution 

Occasionally naturalised in the Moreton district in south-eastern Queensland. Also recorded on a couple of occasions in central Queensland.

Habitat 

A weed of roadsides, disturbed sites, waste areas, old gardens, urban bushland, coastal environs, gullies, riparian vegetation, open woodlands and forest margins.

Habit 

A shrubby plant usually growing 1-4 m tall in cultivation. However, it often climbs into surrounding trees and reaches up to 5 m or more in height when growing in natural vegetation (i.e. it is a scandent shrub).

Impact and control methods 
Stem and leaves 

The younger branches are finely hairy (i.e. puberulous) while but they quickly become hairless (i.e. glabrous). The alternately arranged leaves are borne on short stalks (i.e. petioles) 5-23 mm long. These leaves (2-7 cm long and up to 7 cm wide) are broad with entire margins and two rounded lobes at the tip (i.e. they are bi-lobed). They are often folded lengthwise and are butterfly-like in appearance. Their upper surfaces are hairless (i.e. glabrous), while their undersides are sparsely hairy (i.e. puberulent).

Flowers and fruits 

The flowers are arranged in slightly elongated clusters in the leaf forks (i.e. axillary racemes) near the tips of the branches, each cluster containing 2-10 flowers. Flowering branches and flower stalks (i.e. pedicels) are densely covered with tiny brownish coloured hairs (i.e. they are pubescent). The individual flowers are borne on stalks only 2-5 mm long, but the base of each flower forms a narrow stalk-like tube (i.e. hypanthium) 17-32 mm long that is obscurely to conspicuously ribbed lengthwise. These flowers have five brownish coloured sepals (19-28 mm long) that are fused together and split lengthwise when the flower opens. They have five large petals (2.5-5 cm long) that vary in colour from orange to scarlet, bright red, crimson, brick red or dark red. These petals have narrow bases and rounded tips (i.e. they are clawed). The flowers also have three large stamens as well as a hairy (i.e. pubescent) ovary topped a style and club-shaped stigma. Close examination will also reveal up to seven partially-formed stamens (i.e. staminodes) that are reduced to very narrow (i.e. filiform) stalks up to 6 mm long. Flowering occurs throughout the year, but mainly during late spring and summer (i.e. from November to March). The fruit pods are elongated in shape (8-13 cm long and 18-28 mm wide) and somewhat flattened. These fruit turn from green to dark brown in colour as they mature and quickly become hairless (i.e. they are glabrescent). The large seeds (about 11 mm long and 8.5 mm wide) are dark reddish-brown in colour.

Reproduction and dispersal 

This species reproduces by seed and may eventually form large and dense thickets over time.It is usually spread into natural areas in dumped garden waste, but its seeds may also be dispersed by water, mowers and slashers.

Similar species 

Red bauhinia (Bauhinia galpinii) is relatively similar to closely related species such as pink bauhinia (Bauhinia monandra), butterfly tree (Bauhinia variegata) and purple bauhinia (Bauhinia purpurea). These species can be distinguished by the following differences: red bauhinia (Bauhinia galpinii ) is a large spreading shrub, sometimes climbing over other vegetation (i.e. a scandent chrub), with relatively small leaves (less than 10 cm wide). Its flowers vary from orange to scarlet or dark red and have three fertile stamens.pink bauhinia (Bauhinia monandra) is a small upright tree with relatively large leaves (up to 20 cm wide). Its flowers are pale pink or whitish with darker pink or reddish-purple markings and have a single fertile stamen.butterfly tree (Bauhinia variegata) is a small upright tree with relatively large leaves (up to 15 cm wide). Its flowers vary from entirely white to various shades of pink or purple with darker pink or reddish-purple markings and have five fertile stamens.purple bauhinia (Bauhinia purpurea) is a small upright tree with relatively large leaves (up to 20 cm wide). Its flowers vary from pale purple to bright pinkish-purple and have three fertile stamens.