purple orchid tree
Two specimens can be seen at Nos. 24A and 25A Rains Houses, where they are tucked into secluded corners and are evidently thriving, judging by their substantial size and prolific fruiting. They are seen only occasionally in the Bay Area, being more suited to Southern California. The interesting, edible leaves are 4 or 5 inches across, and indented at both base and apex, somewhat resembling a butterfly’s wings. This geometry facilitates the closing of the leaves. The large flowers come in various tones of lavender and the tough seed pods, up to 6 inches long, contain remarkable seeds that are like buttons about half an inch in diameter. The wood is valuable, sold under the name of ebony in India.
Name derivation: Bauhinia – after Johann and Caspar Bauhin, Swiss botanists; variegata – variegated (the flowers).
About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.