Bauhina tomentosa

Botanical Name: Bauhinia tomentosa N. E. Br.

Synonym:                    B. punctata Bolle      

Common Name:        Yellow Tree Bauhinia

Plant Family:              Caesalpinaceae

Origin:                           Southern Africa

References:                 Coates Palgrave, p.336, Venter p.284. S.A. No. 208,1, Zimb. No. 264

Description:  An attractive evergreen shrub or small tree, with straight to drooping branches. B. tomentosa is easily identified by its delicate small 2-lobed camel foot leaves, resembling butterfly wings. Often forms part of riverine thicket, forest edges, woodland and common in South Africa’s coastal dune bush.

Features of Particular Interest:  The large, bell-shaped, drooping, solitary yellow flowers of B. tomentosa  are beautiful and distinctive. The peals have a maroon patch at the base. The flowers attract pollinating insects that in turn bring in insectivorous birds.

Height and Spread:  3 – 8m, spread 2-5m.

Periods of Interest:

Leaf:  All year round.

Flowering:  November to March.

Fruiting:  February to May.


Soil and Moisture:  B. tomentosa prefers light, well-drained soils with plenty of compost added.

Aspect:  Plant in full sun or light, partial shade.

Hardiness:  Can withstand light frost, but should be protected when young and is somewhat drought hardy.

Maintenance and Pruning:  Prune once a year to encourage flowering during winter and to keep it in shape.

Propagation:  Grows easily from seed. It is best to immerse seed in hot water and leave overnight. Young plants grow fast.

Problems and Drawbacks:  Can get straggly if not pruned.

Use and Associated Planting:  Long straight branches have been used for various purposes such as basket weaving and rafter for huts. B. tomentosa can be effectively used as a screen and hedge, and is also useful in a shrubbery. It is ideal for a small garden. Its root system is non aggressive, and can be planted close to swimming pools and paving. B. tomentosa is a good bonsai subject.