Plant of the Month — May 2011
Bauhinia cunninghamii (Benth.) Benth.
Bauhinia cunninghamii, a tree of the north-west of Western Australia, is glorious in bloom and exotic in looks. This tree belongs to the Fabaceae (sub-family Caesalpinioideae) and can attain a height of twelve metres, making it conspicuous in the landscape. The wood of Bauhinia cunninghamii is hard and the bark is rough, grey and tesselated (coloured and shaded so as to give a chequered appearance). Its range extends from Port Hedland across the north of Western Australia and into the Northern Territory and Queensland.
It enjoys a variety of habitats, favouring sites around the northern creeks and mainly growing in sandy soils. Travellers are able to enjoy its display for seven months of the year, from April to October, the best time to be travelling in its ‘territory’.
It is not known if Bauhinia cunninghamii is able to be grown in the Perth region, but it will always be ‘best dressed’ where it belongs, in the region of hot, wet summers and cool, dry winters.
Photo: T. Tapper
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