native 4Bauhinia hookeri  F.Muell. 1859

pronounced: bow-HIN-ee-uh HOOK-er-eye

(Fabaceae – the pea family)

subfamily: Cæsalpinioideae — the cassia subfamily

synonym: Lysiphyllum hookeri (F.Muell.) Pedley 1981

pronounced: ly-see-FILL-um HOOK-er-eye

common names: Hooker’s Bauhinia, Mountain Ebony, Pegunny

Hooker's Bauhinia
flower

Bauhinia was named for the Bauhin brothers, 16th century Swiss botanists; hookeri is for Sir W.J. Hooker, former director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Lysiphyllum is from two Greek words, λυσις (lysis), a loosing, parting, and φυλλον (phyllon), a leaf. Authorities do not agree as to which of the two names is the accepted one.

green pods

The plant is endemic to Queensland, occurring in north-east Queensland and down the coastal regions as far as central Queensland, but also extending across the northern coast of Australia. It grows in monsoon forest, littoral rainforest and occasionally in more open types of forest. It is also widely cultivated throughout Australia and the Pacific region as a drought-tolerant ornamental.

This is usually found as a rounded and attractive small tree, often multi-stemmed, with a DBH of less than 30 cm, but it has been recorded up to 40 cm. The plant occasionally flowers and fruits as a shrub. It grows to between 5 and 10 m high, with a spread of 3 – 4 m. It sheds its bark in flakes between1 – 2 by 2 – 3 cm in size. It is evergreen, or sometimes briefly deciduous, especially in very dry conditions.

The silver to pale green leaves are compound, with only a single pair of leaflets, typical of the genus; each leaflet is about 25 -45 by 15 – 30 mm in size, and sessile, usually with 4 – 7 radiating longitudinal veins. Between the leaflets there is often present a peg-like gland. There are stipules, about 1 – 1.5 mm long.

Showy white 5-petalled flowers are produced, up to 7 cm in diameter. Both the calyx and the corolla are pubescent on the inner and outer surfaces; the anthers are red, the long spidery staminal filaments pink to red. The ovary is stalked, with a pink to red style. The stigma is green.

The fruits are long flat pods, about 10 – 20 by 3 – 3.5 cm, that turn brown or grey when ripe. Several hard seeds are produced, flat, about 10 – 13 by 6 – 8 mm in size. The pods ripen during the wet season, so seeds can be carried to new locations floating on water.

The tree will grow in full sun, partial sun, or in shade, and is moderately tolerant to salt. It is a very adaptable plant, and can be pruned to shape.

Indigenous Australians used to harvest the gum and the nectar from the flowers as a sweet food. The nectar can either be sucked out or washed out with water. The gum was sometimes used as a healing agent.

Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.

Photographed in Picnic Bay 2018

Page last updated 21st December 2018



 

 

 

 

 

 

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