Common Name(s): Orchid tree
Non-Native to Florida
Origin: Eastern Asia (India, China) 1
Introduction to Florida: 1936 (ornamental) 2
This species appears on the following legally prohibited plant lists
UF-IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas
CATEGORY I on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s (FLEPPC) 2017 List of Invasive Plant Species
Download a recognition card (PDF) from Invasive and Non-native Plants You Should Know3
Download a page (PDF) from Identification and Biology of Nonnative Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas – Second Edition1
Control information: Integrated Management of Nonnative Plants in Natural Areas of Florida (EDIS publication SP 242)4
Orchid tree is occasionally found growing in disturbed sites in the central and southern peninsula of Florida. It is native to tropical Asia but escaped from cultivation. Bauhinia variegata blooms in the spring (Wunderlin, 2003).
Appearance: Semi-deciduous tree to 15 m (50 ft) tall, with a spreading crown.
Leaves: Alternate, long petioled, to 3 cm (1.25 in) long, thin-leathery, simple but deeply cleft at apex, forming 2 large rounded lobes; lower surfaces downy, especially at top of petiole; blades with 11–13 veins extending from heart-shaped or rounded base.
Flowers: Showy, fragrant, in few-flowered clusters near stem tips; 5 petals, clawed, overlapping, pale magenta to indigo (occasionally white), with dark red and yellow also on upper petal; 5 stamens (rarely 6).
Fruit: A flat, oblong pod, to 30 cm (1ft) long, 10–15-seeded.
Ecological threat: Noted as occasional across south Florida; invading dis-turbed areas and displacing native vegetation in hammock margins and occasionally in globally imperiled pine rock-lands. FLEPPC Category I
Distribution: C, SW, SE
Text from Invasive and Non-Native Plants You Should Know, Recognition Cards, by A. Richard and V. Ramey, 2007. UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, Publ. No. SP 431.
View the herbarium specimen image from the University of Florida Herbarium Digital Imaging Projects.
1. Identification and Biology of Nonnative Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas – Second Edition,
by K.A. Langeland, H.M. Cherry, et al. University of Florida-IFAS Publication # SP 257. 2008.
2. Strangers in Paradise, Impact and Management of Nonindigenous Species in Florida, Chapter 2: Florida’s Invasion by Nonindigenous Plants: History, Screening, and Regulation, by D.R.
Gordon and K.P. Thomas, pp. 21-37. Island Press, Washington, DC, 1997.
3. Invasive and Non-native Plants You Should Know – Recognition Cards,
by A. Richard and V. Ramey. University of Florida-IFAS Publication # SP 431. 2007.
4. Integrated Management of Nonnative Plants in Natural Areas of Florida, by K. A. Langeland, J. A. Ferrell, B. Sellers, G. E. MacDonald, and R. K. Stocker. University of Florida-IFAS Publication # SP 242. 2011.