Brazilian Orchid tree - Bauhinia forficata

Of the three different "Bauhinia" tree species that I´ve seen growing in Southern Spain the Brazilian Orchid tree (Bauhinia forficata) is the one I have seen the least. It is far less common than its cousin the "Hong Kong Orchid tree" that is found in many cities and towns on the Southern Spanish coast. Another Bauhinia that is not very common is the Purple Orchid tree.

The leaves of this tree species have a sort of camel´s foot shape as can be appreciated in the image above. Also of note are the small thorns on the smaller branches and stems. The flowers of the Brazilian orchid tree are similar to those of the Hong Kong orchid tree except that the petals are thinner and longer making this tree´s flowers a bit less attractive than those of its cousins.

The seeds of this tree species grow in a long green-been type legum seed pod that measures about 9-11 inches in length.

From my observations the best way to tell this "orchid tree" apart from other´s of the same genus is by its slightly smaller leaves and by its flower.


  1. thank you ..helped me to differentiate the species.... i love these trees especially when they are in full bloom ...with only flowers

  2. Lovely tree. We have a very old one in Fresno, California. Blooms each morning in summer. By the evening the flowers are wilted, but new ones bloom again the next morning. Attracts a few honey bees and a few mild-mannered carpenter bees.

    Can be damaged by cold. If a frost is coming, we place a 60 watt bulb in the tree overnight and it does well.