Thursday, January 18, 2007

Identity of Bauhinia kockiana in doubt

Two experienced gardeners, one in Kuching and the other in Singapore, have told me that the name Bauhinia kockiana seems to have been applied to two different species. If there has been a mixup of identities, the only way to sort them out would be to compare the two plants against scientifically authenticated specimens in a herbarium.

The plant illustrated and described in Tropical Horticulture and Gardening is the one that is commonly grown in Malaysia and Singapore, but it only came into the market in the 1990s. It has become very popular because it flowers practically throughout the year.

The other plant is rare but seems to have come into cultivation much earlier. In Singapore, it flowers profusely once a year.


Dr Francis Ng said...

I have managed to confirm that the plant in the trade is indeed Bauhinia kockiana, which is common in the wild in Borneo but is much less common in the Malay Peninsula. It has three nerves running from the base to the apex of the leaves.

Another species, Bauhinia bidentata, has similar flowers and inflorescences but the leaves have 5 or 7 nerves running from the base to the apex of the leaves. This species is very common as a wild plant in the Malay Peninsula.

Lye said...

I noticed that there seems to be quite a few varieties of B. Kockiana. I guess the variety in the market is the one that is most easily propogated. Wonder which variety that is?

Dr Francis Ng said...

I do not think anyone has made a close study of Bauhinias in cultivation. Dato Sri Lim Chong Keat has a collection in the garden of his Bellevue Hotel on Penang Hill. He has tried to interest me to make a study, but I do not have the time.