Common Name: Natal Bauhinia Afrikaans Name: Natalsebeesklou

This pretty little Bauhinia is not indigenous to the Midlands but it has been flowering profusely in so many gardens this summer that it deserves a mention. It occurs naturally in Valley Bushveld in the Eastern Cape and on the Southern KZN coast.

Bauhinia natalensis grows quickly to reach about 3m, needs little attention and is easily propagated from seed. The distinctive butterfly-like leaves consist of two small, almost completely divided, semi-circular lobes.  An interesting feature of this plant is that the leaves are adapted to close in response to reduced light. The paired leaves are common to the entire family - remember the exotic, purple flowered Camel’s Foot so popular in the last century? If gardeners had had this shrub available then, quite likely they would have chosen indigenous over exotic.

The delicate, fragrant, azalea like flowers are white with a maroon stripe in one petal a paler pink stripe in two others, with the last two petals being plain white. Caterpillars of the Common Emperor and the Banded Achaea moths feed on the leaves and flowers while Whitebellied sunbirds regularly visit the flowers.
The golden brown fruit pods split open when ripe, scattering the seeds and self seeding readily. This is a very rewarding shrub for small gardens, but also makes a spectacular display when planted en masse.

Click on any of the links below to see another Dargle wildflower