Orchid Trees have fragrant flowers that come in shades of magenta, lavender and white with five irregular and slightly overlapping petals that bloom abundantly from February-March. While the flowers resemble orchids, the Arbol de las Orquideas (genus Bauhinia) is not actually part of the orchid family, but rather from the pea/bean family (Leguminosae). In Mexico, it is commonly referred to as Pata de Vaca, which translates to “cow’s foot,” most likely because the leaves are shaped like a cow’s hoof. It is also known as Butterfly Tree and Mountain Ebony. The trees can grow up to 25 feet high, they are deciduous and there are more than 200 varieties.
There are three small Orchid Trees at the entrance to Rincón de Guayabitos (shown below) and another a block and a half from the new park in La Peñita (shown above). The flowers are lavender or pale pink and white. Both the blossoms and leaves are sparse and a little worn at the moment, so if you drive by too quickly you might miss them.
Once the flowers are finished blooming, long pods are produced. According to several online sources, you can let the pods dry, germinate them on a damp paper towel and then plant them.
If you drive by Costco in Puerto Vallarta this time of year, you can’t miss the Orchid Trees lining the east side of their parking lot. This variety produces plentiful magenta and dark lavender flowers and dense, dark green leaves.
Enjoy them before they’re done blooming!
March 9, 2015 Editor’s Note: The Orchid Trees seem to be blooming later than normal this year. The trees at the entrance to Guayabitos are just finally coming into bloom.
View more plants in bloom under the Flora & Fauna category.
This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. Join in and share your stories and photos about how you explore Nayarit, Mexico. We can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to lately!