Tree of the week: Bauhinia galpinii – Pride of de Kaap – Vlam-van-die-Vlakte

Named after a South African botanist and banker E. E Galpin, Bauhinia galpinii is native to Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini, KwaZulu Natal, and the Northern provinces of South Africa. In its wild state this shrub grows more as a climber, climbing through the trees and shrubs of the dense thicket vegetation in which it occurs. This shrub got its common name ‘Pride of de Kaap’ from  the De Kaap valley, south of Nelspruit in Mpumalanga.

Bauhinia galpinii is semi-deciduous and reaches a mature height of 3-5m. Its two-lobed leaves are dark green when mature. This shrub is often multi-stemmed with a bark that varies in colour from light grey-brown to darker grey-brown and has a smooth powdery texture. Bauhinia galpinii is a summer delight in most gardens as it bears masses of brick-red flowers from Spring to summer. These colourful flowers are attractive to nectar-loving birds and to butterflies, bees, and other insects.

Because of its long flowering period, B.galpinii produces a stunning display of colour in the garden. It is an ideal plant for hedging or screening. It can be grown as a climbing plant to cover pergolas and other structures in the garden. Although the root system is non-invasive, this shrub tends to spread and become wild if not kept in check and pruned back regularly. The leaves are browsed by game, larvae of butterflies feed on the young seeds. This plant is waterwise and tolerates moderate frost.