Bauhinia purpurea L.

Bauhinia purpurea L.




Bauhinia triandra Roxb., Bauhinia castrata Blanco., Phanera purpurea (L.) Benth.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Tapak kuda (Peninsular), lupit (Sabah).
English Orchid tree, purple bauhinia.
Indonesia Aroy kupu-kupu (Sundanese), suwoto (Javanese).
Philippines Alibang-bang (Tagalog).
Thailand Sieo dok daeng, sieo waan (northern).
Vietnam M[os]ng b[of] t[is]m.

Geographical Distributions

Bauhinia purpurea is native to tropical Asia; cultivated throughout the tropics, including Southeast Asia and occurs occasionally as an escape from cultivation.


Bauhinia purpurea is a shrub or small tree, up to 10 m tall and its young branches are nearly smooth.

The leaves are suborbicular, measuring up to 12 cm x 12 cm with bifid up to 1/3-1/2, with rounded to cordate base, apex of lobes is rounded to acute, with 9- to 13-veined, minute stipules of 1-2 mm long.

The inflorescence has 6- to 10-flowered raceme. The flower buds are club-shaped, velvety, 3-4 cm long, top-shaped hypanthium, with narrowly lance-shaped petals of 3-5 cm long, claws 0.5-1 cm long and pink to dark purple. It has 3 fertile stamens with 5-6 staminodes.

The fruit is strap-shaped and not divided. It is 20-25 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm, about 10-seeded, smooth and dehiscent.

The seeds are orbicular and up to 15 mm in diametre.

Ecology / Cultivation

Bauhinia purpurea is found in most types of vegetation ranging from evergreen lowlands, rain forests to mountain forests, up to 2000-3000 m altitude and also in savanna, scrub and dry deciduous forests to swamp forests on various soils.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.12(3): Medicinal and poisonous plants 3. 2003.