Other common names are Butterfly tree, Mountain Ebony, Kachnar in Hindi, Devakanchan or Basavana pada in Kananda, Mandara in Sanskrit. Botanical name is Bauhinia and belongs to Fabaceae family.
Native to India, this exotic deciduous tree with flowers resembling the Orchid is used as an ornamental tree in gardens and lanes.
Orchid tree grows up to 20 to 40 feet tall and a 20 to 25 foot crown. This largely depends on how you prune the branches. I have seen trees in all shapes as the electricity board people chop the branches as and when they wish when they reach to the electric lines above.
The leaves are green, rounded, broad, and split in the middle and resemble the hooves of a cow or a camel and hence the local names Basavana Pada in Kannada and Camel Feet in English. They are 10 to 20 cms long.
Orchid tree flowers are fragrant and bloom in pink, lavender, and white and bloom around the year. Some species have narrow petals and some broad petals.
The fruit is a 12 inch long, brown, flat seed pods.
A postal stamp is issued by Indian postal department to honor this beautiful tree. Orchid tree is the state tree of Singapore.
Some of the other species are Phanera purpurea (Kaniar), Bauhinia monandra, Bauhinia forficate, Bauhinia blakeana (Hongkong Orchid Tree), Bauhinia variegata (white purple orchid tree).
The buds and roots of the Orchid tree is used to treat digestive issues. The buds are used in Indian and Pakistani cuisine.
Orchid tree flower is offered to Lord Ganesh during the 21 pushpa pooja while chanting the below mantra: “Om Buddhipradaaya Namaha Mandara Pushpam Samarpayami”.