Many botanists believe this tree is a hybrid between Bauhinia variegata and B. purpurea, and not a true species as its botanical name implies. The tree is sterile, so it does not produce seedpods and seeds. This makes it an ideal Bauhinia, unlike many other Bauhinias which are invasive. An individual tree was discovered in 1880 growing at a monastery in Hong Kong. It was propagated and planted at the Hong Kong Botanic Gardens. It is believed, all cultivated trees can be traced back to this individual. The botanical species name, blakeana, was named for Sir Henry Blake, British governor of Hong Kong from 1898-1903 and an avid amateur botanist. The flower was adopted as the floral emblem of Hong Kong in 1965, and since 1997 the flower appears on Hong Kong’s coat of arms, flag, and coins.
The Hong Kong orchid tree has large showy purplish, magenta blossoms which resemble orchids, and blooms from November to April, making it a favorite nectar source for hummingbirds which overwinter in S. Florida. The tree can attain a height of 20-40′ with a crown spread of 20-25′. It is also very drought tolerant. The nursery has these trees for sale in 15gal. pots 10-12′ and blooming.