Bauhinia variegata (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Bauhinia variegata L.

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


  • Bauhinia candida Aiton (1789),
  • Phanera variegata (L.) Benth. (1852).

Vernacular names

  • Mountain ebony tree, St. Thomas’ tree (En)
  • Indonesia: tali kancu beureum (Sundanese)
  • Malaysia: tapak kerbau (Peninsular)
  • Laos: doc ban
  • Thailand: piang phako, sieo dok khaao (northern), pho-phe (south-western)
  • Vietnam: hoa ban.


Originating from southern China, Burma (Myanmar), northern Thailand, Laos and northern Vietnam, B. variegata is now cultivated throughout the tropics including South-East Asia.


On Leyte (the Philippines) the leaves are applied as a poultice to treat headache. In Burma (Myanmar) the root is employed as a remedy for dyspepsia and the bark as a tonic. In India the bark is credited with astringent, alterative and tonic properties and considered useful in the treatment of scrofula, skin diseases and ulcers. The flowers are consumed and credited with medicinal properties. In South-East Asia B. variegata is primarily known as an ornamental.


  • A tree up to 15 m tall, young branches greyish pubescent.
  • Leaves broadly ovate to circular, 6-16 cm × 6-16 cm, bifid up to 1/4-1/3, base cordate, apex lobes broadly rounded, 11-13-veined, glabrous above, glabrescent and glaucous below, stipules minute, 1-2 mm long, early caducous.
  • Inflorescence a raceme on older twigs, very short, few-flowered.
  • Flower buds fusiform, 3-4 cm long, finely hairy, hypanthium infundibuliform, calyx splitting spathaceous, petals obovate, subequal, 4-5.5 cm long, short-clawed, white or violet, fertile stamens 5, unequal, staminodes 5.
  • Fruit strap-shaped, 20-30 cm × 2-2.5 cm, obliquely striate, 10-25-seeded, dehiscent.
  • Seeds orbicular, flat, 1-1.5 cm in diameter.

In a wild state B. variegata is found in deciduous forest at 500-1500 m altitude.

Selected sources

88, 121, 178, 181, 206, 247, 731, 965.

Main genus page


J.W.A. Ridder-Numan