1. Family: Fabaceae Lindl.
    1. Bauhinia Plum. ex L.

      1. This genus is accepted, and its native range is Tropics & Subtropics.


    Leguminosae, J. B. Gillett, R. M. Polhill & B. Verdcourt. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1971

    Shrubs or small trees or rarely (and not in Flora area) climbers
    Tendrils absent
    Leaves simple, conspicuously bilobed, rarely divided as far as the base
    Flowers usually large and showy, hermaphrodite, arranged in short usually few-flowered racemes or solitary
    Calyx spathaceous (the sepals ± cohering after the calyx has opened)
    Petals 5
    Fertile stamens 1–10, sometimes accompanied by staminodes; filaments ± hairy below in native species, often glabrous in the introduced ones
    Style elongate; stigma capitate or small, sometimes ± unilateral; funicle of ovule short, at top often with 2 short outgrowths appressed to the seed, one of which may be ± suppressed
    Pods oblong to linear, few- to many-seeded, ± woody, dehiscent or rarely (not in East Africa) indehiscent.

    Leguminosae, R.K. Brummitt, A.C. Chikuni, J.M. Lock & R.M. Polhill. Flora Zambesiaca 3:2. 2007

    Trees or shrubs, seldom scandent or climbing, without tendrils, but branch tips sometimes coiling.
    Leaves bilobed or occasionally divided to the base, palmately nerved; stipules deciduous.
    Flowers in racemes or solitary, usually large and showy, bisexual, zygomorphic.
    Calyx spathaceous (the sepals ± cohering after the calyx has opened) above a variably developed hypanthium.
    Petals 5(6), free.
    Stamens 1–10, sometimes accompanied by staminodes, free; anthers opening by longitudinal slits.
    Ovary usually stipitate; style elongate; stigma capitate or small, sometimes unilateral.
    Pods linear-oblong to strap-shaped or broadened upwards, ± woody, dehiscent or elsewhere occasionally indehiscent, few- to many-seeded.
    Seeds ± compressed; hilum circular or crescent-shaped, with a U-shaped to hairpin-shaped scar of 2 aril lobes developed from the funicle.

    Legumes of the World. Edited by G. Lewis, B. Schrire, B. MacKinder & M. Lock. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. (2005)

    Trees and shrubs (sometimes semi-scandent)
    Seasonally dry tropical bushland, woodland, wooded grassland (savanna and cerrado), thorn scrub (including caatinga) and coastal forest; several on sand or limestone; less than 20 spp. in wet habitats, infrequently in evergreen humid forest and rain forest; c. 15 in montane and submontane areas with B. brachycarpa being reported at elevations of up to 3200m in China. Bauhinia ungulata (Ramirez et al., 1984), B. pauletia (Heithaus et al., 1974, Hokche & Ramirez, 1990) & B. multinervia (Hokche & Ramirez, 1990) have all been shown to be pollinated by bats.
    A pantropical genus. Sect. Pauletia c. 78 species in tropical America; sect. Bauhinia c. 20 from Mexico to Northeast Brazil; sect. Amaria 18 from N South America to Mexico; sect. Alvesia c. 7 in southern Africa, S Asia, S China and Malesia; sect. Micralvesia 9 in Africa, S Asia, S China and Malesia; sect. Telestria 5 in S Asia, S China and Malesia; sect. Pseudophanera 1 in S Asia and Malesia; sect. Afrobauhinia c. 20 in southern Africa and Madagascar; sect Semla 2 in S Asia; sect Pseudobauhinia 1 in China; sect Benthamia 2 from Brazil to Argentina. In the neotropics, Brazil Southwest is the most diverse region (37 taxa). In Asia and Australasia, the most taxon rich country is Thailand, in Africa Madagascar, both accommodating 16 taxa.
    Bauhinia in its broadest sense has been divided by various authors into as many as 26 segregate genera (Wunderlin, 1976). Wunderlin et al. (1981, 1987) took a broad view of the genus and placed in synonymy all of the segregate genera recognised by De Wit (1956). Most recent African Floras have adopted a less inclusive approach, which is followed here. Bauhinia subgenus Bauhinia was divided into 9 sections, 2 subsections and 19 series by Wunderlin et al. (1987), but section Gigasiphon is here considered as a separate genus. Phylogenetic analysis of the plastid trnL-trnF region by Sinou et al. (2009) indicated that of the 8 sections of Bauhinia described by Wunderlin et al. (1987) only Amaria, Bauhinia & Alvesia are monophyletic. The analysis also indicated that sect. Pseudobauhinia is nested within Bauhinia s.s. rather than Phanera, where it was placed by Wunderlin et al. (1987). We here follow this arrangement, as B. bohniana, the single species in sect. Pseudophanera, is a shrub without tendrils whereas species within Phanera are lianas with tendrils. We have also included section Semla here rather than within Lasiobema on the same morphological grounds. Palynological studies by Banks et al. (2014) indicate that sections Pseudobauhinia, Afrobauhinia, Alvesia & Amaria each have a single distinct pollen type, whereas in each of the sections Pauletia, Telestria and Bauhinia there are 2 distinct pollen types. Some of the neotropical taxa included here in Bauhinia s.s. may later be proven to belong to segregate genera, but we await further evidence in the form of a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the whole genus to complement the numerous regional morphological studies.

    Tribe Cercideae is basally branching in the Leguminosae (Bruneau et al., 2001; Herendeen et al., 2003a), as predicted by Wunderlin et al. (1981), and Cercis is the most basally branching genus in the tribe. While much taxonomic work has been carried out on the tribe in the past thirty years (e.g., Larsen et al., 1980, 1984; Wunderlin, 1976, 1979; Wunderlin et al., 1981, 1987; Zhang, 1995; Vaz, 2003; Vaz & Tozzi, 2003), few species have been included in phylogenetic analyses and inter- and intra-generic relationships are still largely unresolved with the exception of Cercis (Hao et al., 2001; Davis et al., 2002b).

    Wunderlin (1979) and Wunderlin et al. (1981) divided the tribe into two subtribes, Cercidinae and Bauhiniinae, based on seed, floral and fruit characters. Walpers (1842) had already down-ranked Bauhinieae Benth. (1840) to subtribal status, thus the combination Bauhiniinae (Benth.) Wunderlin (1979) is superfluous. Polhill (1994) kept the Cercideae unchanged with two subtribes and five genera. While the Cercidinae contains three small distinct genera, Cercis, Griffonia and Adenolobus, the Bauhiniinae houses the monospecific Madagascan genus Brenierea and the large, diverse pantropical genus Bauhinia sens. lat. which has been segregated into as many as twenty-six genera by various authors (Wunderlin, 1976).

    While many of the Bauhinia segregates are based on minor morphological differences, others are distinguished morphologically by a suite of characters. Britton and Rose (1930), in their account of the Caesalpiniaceae for the North American Flora, divided Bauhinia into several segregate genera, including Schnella Raddi which here is treated as a synonym of Phanera, but might prove to be distinct as indicated in recent molecular analyses by Forest (unpublished data). Britton and Killip (1936) recognised Schnella as distinct from Bauhinia in Colombia. De Wit (1956), treating ‘Malaysian Bauhinieae’, recognised Bracteolanthus, Lysiphyllum, Gigasiphon, Piliostigma, Lasiobema and Phanera as separate genera and this was largely followed by subsequent flora writers in Africa and New Guinea (e.g., Brenan, 1967; Coetzer & Ross in Ross, 1977; Verdcourt, 1979). Others have retained a more inclusive Bauhinia proposed by Wunderlin et al. (1981, 1987), e.g., Macbride (1943: 207–220) for Peru; Larsen et al. (1980) for the Flora of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam; Larsen et al. (1984) for the Flora of Thailand; Chen (1988) for China, and Larsen & Larsen in Hou et al. (1996) in Flora Malesiana. Zhang (1995) published a morphological cladistic analysis of the series of Bauhinia sens. lat., but few species of Bauhinia have been included in molecular studies. It remains equivocal as to whether Bauhinia sens. lat. is monophyletic, but preliminary molecular results indicate that some elements should be reinstated as distinct genera (Bruneau et al., in prep.; Forest, unpubl.). This runs contrary to the findings of Larsen & Larsen in Hou et al. (1996) who concluded “that Bauhinia in the sense of Linnaeus, Bentham, De Candolle, Taubert and Hutchinson is an evolutionary unit and a very natural genus”. Larsen and Larsen also noted that Bauhinia sens. lat. presents a reticulate pattern of variation across its pantropical range (this apparently conflicting somewhat with its status as a “natural genus”). While this is undoubtedly true if the genus is considered as all-inclusive, recent studies of legume distributions in general (Schrire et al., this volume and 2005) have revealed repeated patterns of generic distribution which appear to be duplicated by at least some of the segregates of Bauhinia. If these segregates are recognised as distinct genera (as several are in this treatment) then the reticulate pattern of variation of Bauhinia is far less pronounced. More sampling at the species level in molecular analyses and more morphological studies are needed across the full pantropical range of Bauhinia sens. lat. before inter- and intra-generic relationships are clearly resolved. In the current account genera that have been recognised as distinct from Bauhinia in at least one flora treatment that post-dates De Wit (1956) have been treated as separate genera, especially where these are supported by the preliminary results from a chloroplast trnL (intron and spacer) sequence analysis (Forest, unpubl.). The reader’s attention is also alerted to the detailed infra-generic division of Bauhinia by Wunderlin et al. (1987) in their reorganisation of the Cercideae which also forms a sound basis for sampling in future studies.

    Palynological studies of Bauhinia (Larsen, 1975; Schmitz, 1977; Ferguson & Pearce, 1986) have all stressed the considerable variation in pollen morphology within the genus sens. lat. and there are clear correlations between pollen exine ornamentation, floral morphology and pollination. It remains to be seen just how closely these correspond to evolutionary relationships of species. Nevertheless, Schmitz (1977) made several new combinations in segregate genera of Bauhinia based on palynological type. These included new names in Lasiobema, Lysiphyllum, Pauletia, Perlebia and Phanera (Pauletia and Perlebia here considered as synonyms of Bauhinia). Zhang (1995), who analysed morphologically the series of Bauhinia proposed by Wunderlin et al. (1987), concluded that while some supraspecific segregates of the genus were supported, none of the subgenera appeared to be monophyletic. Several realignments were proposed.

    The Cercideae as presented here includes 12 genera and (322)–335–(348) species. This treatment differs from Wunderlin et al. (1981, 1987) and Polhill (1994) in that Barklya, Gigasiphon, Lasiobema, Lysiphyllum, Phanera, Piliostigma and Tylosema are considered distinct from Bauhinia. While some of these may well be reincluded in Bauhinia after further study, yet other genera may be reinstated from within Bauhinia. Bracteolanthus, treated as distinct by De Wit (1956), is here included in Lysiphyllum following Wunderlin et al. (1987), while Barklya, considered congeneric with Bauhinia by Wunderlin (1979) and Wunderlin et al. (1981, 1987) is considered distinct following George (1998b) and Forest (unpublished data). The reinstatement of Lasiobema appears least well supported (Forest, unpubl.).

    The leaves of B. hirsuta are used as a scabies treatment; a maceration of the leaves of B. jenningsii var. jenningsii is used to treat gastroenteritis, the young seeds of which are edible; the root of B. macrantha used to treat diarrhoea, the seeds of which are used as a coffee substitute, and the pods are edible; B. pottsii var. subsessilis leaves are used for cigarette papers; B. purpurea yields tannin; B. rufescens is browsed by livestock and is said in Senegal to have magical properties that promote the millet harvest and protect the house from snakes; B. tomentosa yields a yellow dye and in Java is utilised to make the handles of ceremonial daggers; B. variegata is browsed by livestock. C.11 species used as ornamental shrubs and trees of streets, parks and gardens throughout the tropics.



    Native to:

    Andaman Is., Angola, Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Assam, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Borneo, Botswana, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Provinces, Caprivi Strip, Cayman Is., China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Himalaya, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Galápagos, Guatemala, Guyana, Hainan, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Jawa, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Laos, Leeward Is., Lesser Sunda Is., Madagascar, Malawi, Malaya, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, New South Wales, Nicaragua, Northern Provinces, Northern Territory, Pakistan, Panamá, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Queensland, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sumatera, Suriname, Suriname, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Texas, Thailand, Tibet, Trinidad-Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Himalaya, Western Australia, Windward Is., Yemen, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

    Introduced into:

    Ascension, Cameroon, Christmas I., Cook Is., Gambia, Ghana, Gulf of Guinea Is., Hawaii, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, New Guinea, Nicobar Is., Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Sierra Leone, Society Is., Solomon Is., Southwest Caribbean, Tonga, Vanuatu, Venezuelan Antilles

    Bauhinia Plum. ex L. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Feb 6, 2004 Fiaster, B. [s.n.], São Paulo K000807879
    Jan 1, 2004 Amith, J. [0635], Mexico K000654597
    Jan 1, 1998 Linares, J.L. [4494], Mexico K000654599
    Oct 7, 1992 Proença, C. [830], Brazil K000807920
    Jul 15, 1992 Proença, C. [798], Brazil K000807921
    Aug 16, 1990 Cavalcanti, T.B. [723], Goiás K000807873
    Aug 15, 1989 Leoni, L.S. [734], Minas Gerais K000807898
    Hunt, D.R. [5444], Goiás K000807864
    Hunt, D.R. [5444], Goiás K000807865
    Hunt, D.R. [5974], Mato Grosso K000807899
    Hunt, D.R. [5486], Brazil K000807900
    Hunt, D.R. [5566], Mato Grosso K000807901
    Hunt, D.R. [5974], Mato Grosso K000807902
    Philcox, D. [3185], Mato Grosso K000807912
    Philcox, D. [4266], Goiás K000807937
    Polhill, R.M. [5245], Botswana 52400.000
    Hatschbach, G. [66544], Mato Grosso do Sul K000807924
    Rico, L. [1427], Bolivia K000295417
    Rico, L. [1360], Bolivia K000295474
    Rico, L. [1503], Bolivia K000295348
    Rico, L. [1412], Bolivia K000295482
    Rico, L. [1414], Bolivia K000295405
    Rico, L. [1470], Bolivia K000295357
    de Carvalho, A.M. [2194], Brazil 52890.000
    Ratter, J.A. [R6783], Tocantins K000807880
    Ratter, J.A. [6887], Tocantins K000807881
    Ratter, J.A. [6757], Maranhão K000807882
    Ratter, J.A. [R7558], Mato Grosso do Sul K000807925
    Ratter, J.A. [7559], Mato Grosso do Sul K000807926
    Ganev, W. [553], Bahia K000807848
    Ganev, W. [553], Bahia K000807849
    Queiroz, L.P. [3842], Bahia K000807954
    Pirani, J.R. [1954], Tocantins K000807945
    Pirani, J.R. [1630], Brazil K000807946
    Coradin, L. [8628], Bahia K000807844
    Coradin, L. [8641], Bahia K000807846
    Coradin, L. [8545], Bahia K000807854
    Coradin, L. [3369], Bahia K000807855
    Coradin, L. [7204], Tocantins K000807863
    Coradin, L. [2179A], Goiás K000807874
    Coradin, L. [3739], Tocantins K000807876
    Coradin, L. [6824], Mato Grosso K000807888
    Coradin, L. [8705], Goiás K000807915
    Coradin, L. [2253], Maranhão K000807916
    Coradin, L. [4910], Roraima K000807918
    Coradin, L. [2702], Pará K000807923
    Coradin, L. [1119], Brazil K000807927
    Coradin, L. [6878], Mato Grosso K000807928
    Coradin, L. [8705], Goiás K000807932
    Coradin, L. [7597], Bahia K000807935
    Coradin, L. [7595], Bahia K000807936
    Carvalho, A.M. [6196], Bahia K000807852
    Carvalho, A.M. [5218], Bahia K000807857
    Carvalho, A.M. [2148], Mato Grosso K000807904
    Carvalho, A.M. [2219], Mato Grosso K000807938
    Carvalho, A.M. [2194], Mato Grosso K000807944
    Cavalcanti, T.B. [1474], Goiás K000807868
    Cavalcanti, T.B. [790], Goiás K000807869
    Cavalcanti, T.B. [845], Goiás K000807870
    Cavalcanti, T.B. [1518], Goiás K000807872
    Cavalcanti, T.B. [1583], Goiás K000807875
    Cavalcanti, T.B. [1517], Goiás K000807914
    Cavalcanti, T.B. [624], Brazil K000807917
    Cavalcanti, T.B. [712], Goiás K000807933
    Cavalcanti, T.B. [712], Goiás K000807934
    Cordeiro, I. [10198], Minas Gerais K000807939
    Jardim, J.G. [1110], Bahia K000807845
    Jardim, J.G. [1053], Bahia K000807850
    Barros, M. [2256], Brazil K000807886
    Heringer, E.P. [14250], Goiás K000807871
    Andrade, K. [279], Pernambuco K000807956
    Andrade, K. [279], Pernambuco K000807957
    Eiten, G. [10430], Maranhão K000807942
    Eiten, G. [5363], Maranhão K000807950
    Silva, M.G. [3441], Pará K000807940
    Kirkbride, J.H. [2888], Brazil K000807913
    Passos, L. [400], Bahia K000807843
    Laurênio, A. [213], Pernambuco K000807955
    Esteves, G.L. [15459], Minas Gerais K000807878
    Guedes, M.L.S. [7018], Bahia K000807842
    Paula, J.E. [3283], Goiás K000807894
    Alvarenga, D. [1197], Goiás K000807867
    Folli, D.A. [2062], Espírito Santo K000807890
    Ferrucci, M.S. [1066], Bahia K000807851
    Ribas, O.S. [7821], Minas Gerais K000807877
    Bridgewater, S. [S 759], Tocantins K000807930
    Brooks, R.R. [571], Goiás K000807859
    Brooks, R.R. [491], Goiás K000807860
    Brooks, R.R. [684], Goiás K000807861
    Marquete, R. [2262], Goiás K000807889
    Oliveira, F.C.A. [495], Goiás K000807862
    Burchell, W.J. [6643], Goiás K000807906
    Burchell, W.J. [5124-2 (4893)], São Paulo K000807908
    Burchell, W.J. [5850], Brazil K000807931
    Robert, A. [476b], Mato Grosso K000807907
    Robert, A. [379b], Mato Grosso K000807909
    Robert, A. [821], Mato Grosso do Sul K000807910
    Robert, A. [s.n.], Espírito Santo K000807911
    Herrera, G. [3086], Costa Rica K000654601
    Fróes, R.L. [21457], Amazonas K000807943
    Atkins, S. [5087], Bahia K000807847
    Calderón, C.E. [2523], Amazonas K000807905
    Alencar, M.E. [244], Piauí K000807953
    Alencar, M.E. [255], Piauí K000807959
    Azevedo, M.L.M. [1225], Minas Gerais K000807958
    Mendonça, R.C. [4024], Tocantins K000807948
    Mendonça, R.C. [3889], Tocantins K000807949
    Silva, M.A. [4637], Goiás K000807891
    Silva, M.A. [2082], Goiás K000807897
    Silva, M.A. [4040], Tocantins K000807947
    Thomas, W.W. [11553], Bahia K000807853
    Miralha, J.M.S. [s.n.], Amazonas K000807941
    Cardoso, D. [219], Bahia K000807856
    Acevedo-Rdgz, P. [8120], Amazonas K000807922
    Acevedo-Rdgz, P. [8238], Amazonas K000807929
    Amith, J. [0167], Mexico K000654598
    Fonseca, M.R. [1280], Bahia K000807841
    Kirkbride, M.C.G. [1049], Brazil K000807884
    Kirkbride, M.C.G. [1318], Brazil K000807892
    Kirkbride, M.C.G. [1213], Brazil K000807893
    Arais Silva, M. [3593], Bahia K000807858
    Arais Silva, M. [3927], Goiás K000807866
    J.A .Ratter [7193], Goiás K000807883
    Taxonomy class of Universidade de Brasília [1108], Brazil K000807885
    Martinez, M.S. [14], Brazil K000807887
    Ferreira, V. [s.n.], Brazil K000807895
    Ferreira, V. [1], Brazil K000807896
    Cravalho, A.M. [2194], Mato Grosso K000807903
    Souza, L.R.M. [20915], Paraná K000807919
    Flores, T.B. [428], Minas Gerais K000807951
    Castellani, E.D. [187], São Paulo K000807952
    s.coll. [Cat. no. s.n.], Peninsular Malaysia K001132332
    Rios, P. [54], Costa Rica K000654602
    Rios, P. [54], Costa Rica K000654603
    Terán, F. [538], Mexico K000654600

    First published in Sp. Pl.: 374 (1753)

    Accepted by

    • Studart da Fonseca Vaz, A.M. (2011). Typification of names of taxa of Bauhinia L. (Leguminosae: Cercideae) from Brazil Taxon 60: 1464-1474.
    • Torres-Colín, R., Duno de Stefano, R. & Lorena Can, L. (2009). El género Bauhinia (Fabaceae, Caesalpinioideae, Cercideae) en la península de Yucatán (México, Belice y Guatemala) Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad 80: 293-301.
    • Govaerts, R. (1996). World Checklist of Seed Plants 2(1, 2): 1-492. MIM, Deurne.


    Flora of West Tropical Africa
    • —F.T.A. 2: 285.
    Flora Zambesiaca
    • De Wit in Reinwardtia 3: 386, 390 (1956).
    • Gen. Pl., ed. 5: 177 (1754).
    • Sp. Pl.: 374 (1753)
    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    • L., Gen. Pl., ed. 5: 177 (1754)
    • Sp. Pl.: 374 (1753)


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