As the name suggests, anyone could be forgiven for thinking that
this plant comes from the Cape. In actual fact it is named after
the De Kaap valley, south of Nelspruit in Mpumalanga in the northeastern
region of South Africa. It is much more widespread, however, and
can be found right across the moister bushveld areas of the country.
its wild state this medium to large shrub behaves more as a climber,
clambering through the trees and shrubs of the dense thicket vegetation
in which it occurs. It doesn't have to be grown in this fashion
in your garden and with just a little pruning and training it can
easily be trained into an attractive small tree or large garden
shrub. Alternatively it can be encouraged in its clambering habit
to cover pergolas or other structures and offer evergreen shade
in your garden.
Growing Bauhinia galpinii
The pride of De Kaap is easy to cultivate and requires little
attention once established. It is hardy to drought and moderate
frost, but may need protection from frost in the first two or three
years after planting. It produces its brick red flowers for a long
period during the summer months from September to March but will
also flower sporadically throughout the rest of the year.
This species requires space, even if it is to be regularly pruned,
and is not suitable for the small garden. It does however come into
its own in large gardens and estates where it may also form a good
barrier plant along fences and boundaries.
Certain butterfly larvae, that will eat the leaves and later pupate
into beautifully coloured butterflies, favour this species. The
long flexible branches of this tree are often used by the local
people for weaving baskets and for the construction of roof trusses
for their huts.
The seeds germinate easily and are best sown in spring. Soaking
the seeds in warm water overnight will speed up germination. After
germinating the seedlings grow quickly and should be transferred
into individual containers while they are still young.
Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden