Kampala Tree and Palm Directory

Tree Species
Common Name
Tree Description
Tree Uses

English: Orchid tree, Mountain ebony.

+ Tree Species

Bauhinia variegata

+ Tree Family


+ Ecology

Mountain ebony is native to India, Tropical Asia, China. It is capable of growing on a wide range of soils from gravelly, shallow, rocky soil on hill slopes to sandy loam and loamy soil in the valley. A tree grown throughout the tropics. Commonly planted in gardens and avenues in most towns throughout Uganda, but particularly common in Central Region. In Kampala, Orchid tree can be found within Makerere university, Uganda Golf course club, Kitante courts, at Mackinnon road, Nakasero hill road among other places.

+ Description

An attractive small semi-deciduous tree, usually to 6 m but sometimes much taller. It can attain a diameter of 50 cm. The tree often has more than one main bole; the bole is short and often crooked.

BARK: grey and smooth, furrowed and flaking with age. The twigs are slender, zigzag; when young, light green, slightly hairy, and angled, becoming brownish grey.

LEAVES: alternate, dull blue-green, the two lobes 10-15 cm across (camel-foot shaped), veins radiating from the leaf base.

FLOWERS: pink-white in short sprays, each flower with five petals marked with rose or yellow-green, one petal different in shape and colour (orchid like), five arched stamens.

FRUIT: flat brown pods to 20 cm long, twisted open to release round flat seeds 1 cm across.

+ Uses

Edible: young leaves, fruits, flowers and flower buds are boiled and eaten as a vegetable or pickled. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Bauhinia+variegata

Medicine: bark, dried buds, flowers, and roots. http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php id=Bauhinia+variegata

The bark is a source of tannins that are used for dyeing in various shades of brown.

The young green bark detaches easily from the tree and yields a fibre that is used for cordage.

The tree yields a gum.

The seeds yield 16.5% of a pale yellow, fatty oil on extraction with petroleum ether but only 6.1% in a hydraulic press.

The wood is used for house construction and making household and agricultural implements.

The tree is used as fuel.

The plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental hedge.

Agroforestry: leaves are source of fodder to the animals, provides bee forage, used in soil conservation.

+ Propagation

Seeds, cuttings, layering.

+ Management

Fairly fast growing; coppicing, lopping, pollarding.

+ Remarks

In India and Nepal flowers of B. variegata are used for vegetables and pickles. The heavy, hard wood makes good tools.

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