Orchid Tree, Bauhinia

Bauhinia forficata

Family: Caesalpiniaceae (ses-al-pin-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Bauhinia (baw-HIN-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: forficata (for-fih-KAY-tuh) (Info)




Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)


12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)


USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer


Unknown - Tell us

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Chowchilla, California

Gainesville, Florida

Homestead, Florida

Austin, Texas

Houston, Texas

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 3, 2011, jilos from Reseda, CA wrote:

I am interested in buying seeds from this tree ,the insulin tree.Also would like to buy other exotict tree seeds from other countries.If any body is interested let me know


On Oct 13, 2008, johnpeten from San Andres, Peten
Guatemala wrote:

This tree grows like a weed in Norhern Guatemala. I keep two trees in my garden but it's many seedlings get pulled.
It does not have spines or sharp edges and blooms in October. It is very happy in neutral or slightly alkaline soil.
Here it is called Pie de Vaca, Cow's foot because of the leaf shape. It blooms when it is only a few inches tall.
The flower is very slightly different to the ones illustrated, see my photo, but still could be called an orchid.
The leaves made into a tea are used to treat Diabetes and Kidney problems. Sometimes called vegetable insulin.


On Jul 19, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This is a small tree native from my area, living on the edge of the rainforests. The branches are quite long, so it sometimes act like a climber, but its most times a small tree.

The flowers are white, with narrow, long, and curved petals, not as atractive as other Bauhinias. The leaves have pointy tips, looks like a cows footprint (here, its called "pata-de-vaga", or "cows paw" because of those leaves).

This plant isnt commonly cultivated, but is a common volunteer in humid places. It has the reputation of having anti-cancer properties, and is used this way. Pharmacological studies are being made, and has been proving that it has indeed some activity against cancerous cells.