Bauhinia carronii

Queensland ebony


Bauhinia carronii

F.Muell. 1858

pronounced: bow-HIN-ee-uh kar-RON-ee-eye

(Fabaceae — the morning glory family)

subfamily: Caesalpinioideae - the cassia subfamily


common names: Queensland ebony, northern beantree

native 4Bauhinia was named for the Bauhin brothers, 16th century Swiss botanists; carronii is named for one of Australia’s pioneer botanists, William Carron (1821–1876). Born in Norfolk, England, he was a gardener, and arrived in Sydney in 1844 in charge of the plants sent out for the garden of an Alexander McLeay. He was the botanist on Edmund Kennedy’s expedition to Cape York in 1848. Later, he was a collector for the Sydney Botanic Gardens, and also collected information on forest reserves for the NSW Lands Department.

This is a tree that can grow to about 10 m in height, commonly multi-stemmed, with its branches usually either spreading or pendant. The bark is furrowed and hard, dark grey or brownish grey in colour.

The leaves consist of two leaflets, of the usual appearance of the Bauhinia genus, but are free, rather than partially joined like those of many of the other Bauhinia. They are also much smaller than most others, about 2–4 cm long and up to 1.5 cm wide, asymmetrically ovate, and often curved. They are dull green in colour. The young leaves and branchlets are downy with short hairs which become lost with increasing age, and finish completely smooth.

The flowers are arranged in groups of 2 or 3 on a very short common stalk. The calyx is about 1.5 cm long and encloses 5 ovate petals which may be pink, red, white, brick red or orange-pink. It is a very irregular flowerer: the flowers appear in spring, but not every year – there can be several years without flowering. I have been monitoring this particular tree since 2008, and it has flowered for the first time in December 2014.

The fruit is an oblong pod, slightly curved, 8–10 cm long and 3 cm broad.
The seeds are shiny brown, flat, ovate-oblong, and just over 1 cm long.
The weeping nature of the foliage makes this a very attractive little tree.
The heartwood of the timber is hard and heavy, brown to dark brown in colour.

The tree was a source of famine food for the Aborigines. The flowers produce a clear nectar which was either squeezed out or sucked up. The flowers were also steeped in water, which was then drunk.

The Castor or Croton caterpillar Achaea janata has been found feeding on members of the Bauhinea genus.


Photographs taken Picnic Bay 2008-2015
Page last updated 18th October 2018