The Orchid Trees are a group of very colorful, flowering trees suitable for many landscaping purposes. Aside from the showy flowers ranging in color from white to purple which bloom at various times of the year the characteristically angel wing or heart shaped leaves as well as the elongated seed pods are clear identifying features. The loss of leaves, flowers and seed pods leads to a substantial amount of litter accumulating around these trees and care should be taken not to plant them too close to structures, sidewalks, roads or driveways. These trees grow well in South Florida readily adapting to sandy, well drained, alkaline soils as well as full sun and partial shade conditions.
The history of the Hong Kong Orchid Tree (Bauhinia blakeana) is particularily fascinating. In the late 1800's priests from a French mission located on Hong Kong Island found a previously unidentified Bauhinia growing in the wild. Cuttings taken from this tree were planted on the mission compound and propagated. Meanwhile botanists around the world failed to find anymore wild growing specimens of this tree. As a result the tree was named Hong Kong Orchid Tree and is featured on the seal of Hong Kong Province. All commercially available Hong Kong Orchid Trees trace their origin back to this original tree.
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