Bauhinia variegata

Orchid tree

Nonnative to FloridaFISC Category 1 Invasive

Species Overview

Native to: India, China

Orchid tree was introduced as an ornamental tree in 1936. It has since escaped cultivation and can now be found occasionally growing in disturbed sites in the central and southern peninsula of Florida. Orchid trees are fast-growing and may tolerate intense humidity and heat, thriving well in nearly all landscapes.

Species Characteristics

  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Habit: semi-deciduous tree to 15 m (50 ft) tall, with a spreading crown
  • Leaves: orbiculate leaves are bi-lobed and emarginated with an alternate leaf arrangement
  • Flowers: large, purple, orchid-like flowers ar showy, fragrant, in few-flowered clusters near stem tips; 5 petals, clawed, overlapping, pale magenta to indigo (occasionally white), with dark red and yellow also on upper petal; 5 stamens (rarely 6)
  • Fruit: flat, oblong pods, to 30 cm (1ft) long,
  • Seeds: 10–15-seeds contsined in pod
  • Distribution in Florida: central and south


Orchid tree is not recommended by UF/IFAS for south Florida. The UF/IFAS Assessment lists orchid tree as invasive/no use in south Florida, a species of caution (requires management to prevent escape) for central Florida and not a problem in north Florida. FLEPPC lists it as a Category 1 invasive species due to its ability to invade and displace native plant communities.

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

The first step in preventative control of orchid tree is to not plant it and to remove existing trees within the landscape. If possible, removal should occur before seeds are produced. 

Native alternatives to orchid tree include seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera), bayleaf capertree (Cynophalla flexuosa), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) and false tamarind (Lysiloma latisiliquum).


Physical management includes persistent effort to control and limit seedling establishment.


Remove mature trees by cutting.


There are no known biological control agents for orchid tree.

  • Cut stump: 50% Garlon 3A
  • Basal bark: 10% Garlon 4

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