Picture of the Week: Bauhinia (not…)

+++ Update from March 2014, Connie pointed out that my picture does not show a Bauhinia. In fact it shows a Tibouchina urvilleana. So just ignore my mistake! +++

Bauhinia is a plant with beautiful, orchid-like flowers. Here is a picture of a lilac one (taken in the Kowloon Walled City park) – but the white one is much more famous as its Hong Kongs’ emblem.

For much of the year, one of the commoner trees in Hong Kong’s city parks and gardens looks rather nondescript. It never grows more than around eight metres high, and there’s little distinctive about it except leaves shaped like camel’s feet – which are hardly the epitome of style. Don’t let this unassuming appearance deceive you: this tree is special in several ways. In late winter, it explodes with the blooms that give rise to its common English name – Hong Kong orchid tree – and which have been adopted as the emblem of Hong Kong.

The flower has been Hong Kong’ s emblem since 1965 and is featured on flags, coins and other publications.

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