Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bauhinia galpinii

This beautiful African bauhinia seemed to have survived our cold winter last year with no trouble at all.  I photographed them blooming just a few days ago at the Houston Garden Center, 1500 Hermann Drive, across from the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  Although native to southeastern Africa, it has naturalized in Texas and parts of Florida. 

This bauhinia doesn't form a true tree but has a rather vining, sprawling habit.  It's a large shrub, and can reach 8-10 feet high and 10-15 feet wide.  Allow plenty of room in an area that gets full or mostly full sun.  The blooms are a rich red-orange and the leaves have the characteristic hoof-print shape.  It will lose some of those leaves in the winter, but should recover nicely once well-established.  I'd protect a young plant for the first winter or two, just in case. 

You may also see this plant listed as Red Orchid Bush, Red Bauhinia, Nasturtium Bauhinia, African Plume, or Pride of de Kaap (the Cape).


  1. This is a huge shrub. Will sprawl to cover a bank. South African, but it confuses me because this De Kaap is north in the old Transvaal (where it would get some frost), not in the Cape Province down south where I live.

    I have a Natal Bauhinia which is a much more lady-like plant, with tiny butterfly leaves, and white flowers (but not so photogenic ;-(

  2. You are right -- this one is huge! It might be possible to keep it somewhat in bounds. Here you probably have to trim back frost damage every year. Would be a good time to prune! We have a native bauhinia here too -- Bauhinia lunarioides, or Anacacho Orchid Tree. But the tropical ones are showier.
    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Elizabeth, I feared that I'd lost mine to winter's chill but it just took some time to come back. It just started blooming. I love this shrub even if it does have to be pruned regularly to keep it from taking over the corner bed!