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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bauhinia × blakeana - Hong Kong Orchid Tree

I first encountered this specimen while investigating Oceanview Ave. on a tip from a student about the huge trees. I was in Oceanview park and came out to find this poor little tree with only a few leaves, looking like it might be dead soon. Put in my notes that is was there but didn't think much about it. I went back in late November only to find it in bloom and doing quite well. I doubt it will reach its full potential here, it's reportedly damaged with temperatures of 20F. Trees reportedly semi-deciduous or completely deciduous, 15-20' tall and usually wider that tall, dome shaped. Looks a bit coarse with its long branches going in all directions.

Leaves are semi-deciduous or deciduous, alternate, simple, and more or less round in outline. The tip of the leaf is deeply lobed at least 1/3 of the way to the base. All the veins originate at the base of the leaf and radiate outward. Generally bluish green in color and often folded up like a clam closing or a butterfly.

Fragrant flowers appearing in fall into the winter and blooming until spring. Magenta color, five petals and sepals, 5+ inches wide, asymmetrical, long stamens with curving tip and female part even longer and more curved.

Stems some what zig-zagging at the nodes, smooth and green or brown in the fall, but new strong growth may have copper colored hairs. Vegetative buds look naked but I have not seen references to that.

I have read references suggesting the leaves can look like Cercis canadensis but deeply lobed at the tip. I think the give away that its not a Cercis is the leaves folded up and deeply lobed. Now the trouble begins, as there are more than on species of Bauhinia, B. variegata has smaller leaves, less shallowly lobed to almost not lobed, smaller flowers, but same color flower or very pale to almost white. The pictures I have seen of B. variegata in full bloom the flowers all look very light colored, almost white.

I am open to being schooled on this plant. Doubt the owner will read this and most don't know what is planted in their yards.

Santa Cruz
113 Oceanview Ave.

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