Bauhinia galpinii N.E.Br.

Common names: Pride of De Kaap (E); Vlam-van-die-Vlakte (A).
Family :

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.

Bauhinia galpiniiIn 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.

Andrew Hankey
Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden
February 2001

To find out if SANBI has seed of this or other SA species, please email our seedroom.
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