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Bauhinia variegata, Phanera variegata, Orchid tree, Purple orchid tree, Mountain ebony, Poor Man's orchid

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Bauhinia variegata, Phanera variegata
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Orchid tree, Purple orchid tree, Mountain ebony, Poor Man's orchid
Origin: India and China
Small tree 10-20 ftFull sunSemi-shadeModerate waterPink flowersRed/crimson/vinous flowersDeciduousSubtropical, cold hardy at least to 30s F for a short timeSeaside, salt tolerant plant

Orchid tree grows 20-40' tall and 10-20' wide with a spreading crown of briefly deciduous leaves which are 4-6" across and rounded with lobed ends and heart shaped bases. The leaves are shaped a little like a cow's hoof. Some cultivars have leaves with white variegations. The flowers are reminiscent of showy orchids, with five irregular, usually slightly overlapping petals in shades of magenta, lavender or purplish blue. The flowers often make their first appearance in late winter while the tree is bare of leaves. The blooming period then lasts until early summer. The flowers are 3-5" across and carried in clusters at the branch tips. A member of the bean family, orchid tree produces flattened brown woody legumes (pods) up to 12" long. The cultivar 'Candida' has snow white flowers with greenish veins.

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