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Products > Bauhinia tomentosa
Bauhinia tomentosa - Yellow Bauhinia
Image of Bauhinia tomentosa
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Fabaceae = Pea Family
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Summer
Height: 4-6 feet
Width: 4-6 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 30-32 F
Bauhinia tomentosa (Yellow Bauhinia) - A medium sized shrub to 6 to 9 feet tall and as wide (in cultivation) with gray-brown bark and arching semi-pendulous branches bearing attractive light green two-lobed leaves that have a rough texture. In late spring or early summer and continuing well into the fall appear the attractive 1 inch long bright yellow flowers that have deep maroon blotch in the center in summer months.

Plant in full sun and give regular to occasional irrigation. Cold hardy to about 30 F.

Bauhinia tomentosa can be found growing in South Africa from southern Kwazulu-Natal to Maputoland, Mpumalanga north to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and further north into tropical Africa and India. The name "Bauhinia" was a name given this genus by Linnaeus to honor the twin brothers Johann and Gaspard Bauhin, who were 16th century Swiss scientists - Johann was a botanist and Gaspard a botanist and physician. Using the name of these identical twin is fitting as Bauhinia leaves are composed of two identical lobes. The specific epithet 'tomentosa', meaning "hairy" is in reference to the velvety fruit pods of this species. The plant was first described by Linnaeus from a collection reportedly made in India.

In its native habitat it is noted as being a large shrub or even a small tree to 12 feet tall but even older plants in cultivation in Santa Barbara have rarely exceeded 5 feet tall. This plant can be used as an unusual specimen plant in near frost-free gardens or as a large potted plant. Two such plants in large urn-like pots graced the entrance to the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel for many years. The oldest specimen we have seen of this plant was one growing near the Biology Department greenhouses at UCSB and at 30 years it was close to 6 feet tall. We never saw it but were informed by a customer living in the San Fernando Valley that her twelve-year-old plant had grown to 9 feet tall by as wide. We first grew this plant in 1987 and offered it off and on when we got good viable seed until 2014. When sowing all stored seed in 2024, our last active year of production, we discovered seed that germinated well and so are able to offer a crop of this nice smaller Bauhinia. 

This information about Bauhinia tomentosa displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.