Bauhinia X blakeana (Hong Kong Orchid Tree)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0014
  • Botanical Name: Bauhinia X blakeana 
  • Common Name: Hong Kong Orchid Tree, Kanchan Flower
  • Cultivar: N/A
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • First Cultivated in:  Hong Kong (1914)
Bauhinia X blakeana 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Landscaping Information

  • Plant Type: Tree
  • Texture: Dense
  • Form: Irregular/Spreading
  • Height (on average, in landscape use): 20'-35'
  • Height to Spread Ratio: 1:1
  • Growth Rate: Medium-Fast
  • Landscape Values: Accent, Street Tree, Color, Mass, Shade
  • Outstanding Quality: Flower Color, Seasonal Color
Bauhinia X blakeantree at UH Manoa
Photo by Matthew Gaston



Bauhinia X blakeana trees outside of a restaurant in Honolulu, HI. 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Botanical Description

  • Flowers: Cassia-type flower, bilaterally symmetric, sterile ovary, 5 stamens. 5 deep pink to pinkish violet petals with white venation; one petal featuring darker red to violet venation. Lighter pink to white near the base of each petal; fragrant
Bauhinia X blakeana flower
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Bauhinia X blakeana flower 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Bauhinia X blakeana flower 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Fruits: A sterile cross (of B. purpurea and B. variegata); Almost always does not produce fruits. 
  • Foliage Color: Young/immature: Light Green. Mature: Bright Medium Green
  • Leaflet Tip: Rounded
  • Foliage Base: Rounded
  • Petiole: 0.75"-1.25"
  • Stipules: N/A
  • Margins: Smooth
  • Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
  • Leaf Shape: Obcordate
  • Leaf Type: Simple
  • Leaf Texture: Smooth to leathery adaxial (top) surface) with prominent venation on the abaxial (bottom) surface.
  • Leaf Special Notes: The leaf is comprised of two leaflets. The leaf resembles that of a camel or any other even toed undulate.  
Bauhinia X blakeana adaxial surface of leaf
Photo by Matthew Gaston


Bauhinia X blakeana abaxial surface of leaf
Photo by Matthew Gaston


Bauhinia X blakeana flower and leaves
Photo by Matthew Gaston
  • Bark and Trunk: Smooth, light gray to gray bark. 
Bauhinia X blakeana bark
Photo by Matthew Gaston


Horticultural Information

  • Light Preference:  Full Sun
  • Light Tolerances:  Semi-Sun
  • Soil Preferences:   Slightly acidic, Loam, Moist
  • Tolerances: Acidic,  Humidity, Regular Watering
  • Water Requirements: Enjoys moist soils, but once established it can tolerate drought.
  • Notes on Maintenance: An easy tree to grow and manage due to its adaptability. No fruits as it is sterile. Will drop some leaves in the winter. Chinese Rose Beetle is known to munch on the leaves, but usually does not cause serious harm. The crown shape can be highly influenced by winds. In colder climates, the plant tends to stay more shrub-like. Known to have a longer blooming season than other Bauhinia. A good street tree overall. 
  • Propagation: Cutting, Layer, Grafting.
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 9a
  • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): -7. Low Risk
  • Additional Information: Bauhinia x blakeana and its cultivars like ‘Sir Henry Blake’ are hybrids of Bauhinia variegata and Bauhinia purpurea. There is currently no consensus as to which species contributed more of its genetics. All of the trees now can be traced back to the Hong Kong Botanical Gardens starting in 1914! That is to say that this plant has a history in Hong Kong. The genus is named after the Swiss-French Bauhin brothers - each lobe on the bilobed leaves represents a brother. Both botanists, one of the Bauhin brother’s work in concise short naming of plants influenced Linnaeus, who went on to become known for binomial nomenclature. The specific epithet (blakeana) and cultivar name is in honor of the British Governor of HK from 1898 to 1903. The plant has beautiful leaves with green-blue notes in the shade and bright green new growth. The flowers are considered remarkable resembling that of an orchid. In 1965, it was adopted as the floral emblem and today is represented on the Flag of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Of the People’s Republic Of China.
The Urban Council of Hong Kong Armorial Bearings used by the College of Arms. Note the Bauhinia flower.
Image by SalisburyCentric - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53660778
 

The use of the shortened name Hong Kong in this post refers to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.

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