Bauhina petersiana

Botanical Name: Bauhinia petersiana Bolle

Synonym:                   Bauhinia macrantha Oliv.

Common Name:      White Bauhinia

Plant Family:             Caesalpinaceae

Origin:                          Africa

References:               Coates Palgrave p.335, Storrs 1 p.75-76, Venter p.248. S.A. No. 208,3, Zimb No. 263


Description:  B. petersiana is an evergreen shrub or small tree. It is easily identified by the two lobed camel foot leaves and white flowers.

Features of Particular Interest:  Large showy flowers crinkly white petals flowering between September and February. Flowers look like paper hankies. Pods are large fat smooth splitting in July to September.

Height and Spread:  3 – 4 metres as shrub or 7 m as a tree, spread 3-5m.

Periods of Interest:

Leaf:  All year round.

Flowering:  October to February.

Fruiting/pod:  July to September.


Soil and Moisture:  B. petersiana prefers sandy soils.

Aspect:  No special aspect but likes open sun.

Hardiness:  Can withstand long periods of drought. It can take cold but not frost when young.

Maintenance and Pruning:  Keep pruned or becomes untidy.

Propagation:  Propagated from seeds. Soak seeds in hot water and leave overnight. Growth is up to 800mm a year.

Problems and Drawbacks B. petersiana is rather untidy, and its exotic relations are probably more suitable for gardens.

Use and Associated Planting:  Domestic stock and game eat the leaves and pods, louries/turacos and Meyer’s Parrots like the flower buds and flowers. Seeds are highly nutritious roasted, with a nutty flavor. White Bauhinia can be used effectively as a screen plant or in a shrubbery in dry areas, also a specimen plant, in a flowerbed. Useful in small garden provided growth kept compact. Display of white flowers best in contrast with B. galpinii or other colorful flowering plant. Non-aggressive root system.