Bauhinia purpurea (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Bauhinia purpurea L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 1: 375 (1753).


  • Bauhinia triandra Roxb. (1832),
  • Bauhinia castrata Blanco (1837),
  • Phanera purpurea (L.) Benth. (1852).

Vernacular names

  • Orchid tree, purple bauhinia (En)
  • Indonesia: aroy kupu-kupu (Sundanese), suwoto (Javanese)
  • Malaysia: tapak kuda (Peninsular), lupit (Sabah)
  • Philippines: alibangbang (Tagalog)
  • Thailand: sieo dok daeng, sieo waan (northern)
  • Vietnam: móng bò tím.


Native to tropical Asia, cultivated throughout the tropics, including South-East Asia; it occurs occasionally as an escape from cultivation.


In Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand the leaves are used for poulticing sores and boils. In India, the bark is extensively applied in glandular diseases and as a poison antidote. It is well known for its astringent, anthelmintic, carminative and diuretic effects and is used in diarrhoea. The leaves are administered as a cough medicine. The flowers are said to be laxative and used in curries and pickles.


  • A shrub or small tree up to 10 m tall, young branches glabrescent.
  • Leaves suborbicular, up to 12 cm × 12 cm, bifid up to 1/3-1/2, base rounded to cordate, apex of lobes rounded to acute, 9-13-veined, stipules minute, 1-2 mm long.
  • Inflorescence a 6-10-flowered raceme.
  • Flower buds club-shaped, velvety, 3-4 cm long, hypanthium turbinate, calyx splitting spathaceous, petals narrowly lanceolate, 3-5 cm long, claws 0.5-1 cm long, pink to dark purple; fertile stamens 3, staminodes 5-6.
  • Fruit strap-shaped, not septate, 20-25 cm × 1.5-2.5 cm, c. 10-seeded, glabrous, dehiscent.
  • Seeds orbicular, up to 15 mm in diameter.

Selected sources

121, 178, 206, 247, 654, 719, 731, 965.

Main genus page


J.W.A. Ridder-Numan