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Bauhinia natalensis

Dainty Bauhinia

I originally labelled this tree as "Currently Unknown" because it was a rescued tree that was thought to be a Mopane tree (A tree indigenous to Southern Africa). This was based on the description that the original owner gave me about flowers, pods, etc. However, later research actually proves this tree to be a Bauhinia natalensis. Because this tree lived with the title of Colophospermum mopane for so long, my pet name for this tree is now INCOGNITO!

Species Information

Occuring in valley bushveld and scrub, this tree is found on the Southern Natal and Northern Eastern Cape coast. This tree makes a lovely garden plant and will flower throughout the summer in full sun.

  • Height: A scrambling shrub upto 2,5 m.
  • Bark: Grey-brown.
  • Leaves: Rather small and divided almost to the base. 1-3 x 0,5-1,5cm in size. The two lobes are obliquely ovate-oblong to obovate. Petiole up to 1,5cm long and slender.
  • Flowers: White and often with pink to red main veins, 3-4cm in diameter. The petals are obovate without a crisped margin. Often only the male flowers and is sporadically hermaphrodite. Flowers appear mostly solitary between October and April, but can be found at almost any time during the year.
  • Fruit: Small golden brown pod, up to 7x1cm during summer (December - April).

My Tree

Here is the story on how I rescued this tree:

Mopane Tree??

Is it a Mopane Tree??

After a trustees meeting in January 2003, I happened to mention that I was into Bonsai. This sparked a lady's interest and she informed me that she had inherited a "Bonsai" from her husband 7 years ago and did not know what to do with it. All she had done with the tree was water it. She had also planted three other seeds in the same pot that had grown. She offered it to me and so I adopted it.
This tree unfortunately came with a few bugs and fungus, so it had to be treated first.

After cleaning up the pot, I proceeded to treat the tree and continue watering it.

I also decided to cut down the three other trees as I did not want them to drain the main tree of water that it so desperately needed. The other trees I will keep and later plant them in a training pot for a future project.

The rescued trees

The Rescued Trees

The cleaned up pot look

The cleaned up pot look

The tree also needs to be repotted. After sitting for 7 years with no work done on it, the roots would more than likely be too big for the pot.

Due to the harsh summer though, repotting will have to wait until winter. At that time I will also prune the roots. Then later in spring I could begin training the tree.

In order for it not to grow very much bigger I will have to choose my style very carefully. Maybe the Toobuku (Fallen Tree) style would be interesting due to the already long thin trunk.

Towards the end of August, just before it started to warm up, I decided to repot the tree into a large training pot.

Looking a little sparse at first, but within 2 weeks of transplanting it bright green foliage has sprouted. Leaves have remained small, so there is lots of potential leaf reduction in the future.

Transplanted into a large training pot

Transplanted into a large training pot.

Initial training begins

Initial Training Begins

After letting the tree grow out a bit, I started the initial training of the tree. I have wired it and started to curve it a little more upright, and twisted the branches into more favourable positions.

One of the good things about this species is that it buds back quite considerable, so I am now able to develop a few more branches off the trunk and main branches.

Last updated 2004.04.19