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THE PURPLE BAUHINIA Bauhinia purpuria Linn. (Order: Legutriinosae).

Bauhinia in honour of two German botanists of the 16th century, John and Caspar Bauhiri; purpuria in allusion to the colour of the flowers. Description: A moderate-sized deciduous tree 40 to 50 ft. high. Leaves simple, bilobed, 4 to 5 in. in diameter, roundish, about as long as broad, the two lobes separated from 1/3 to 1/2 their length from the tip. Tips sub-acute or rounded, base cordate; nerves 9 to 11 radiating from the base; petiole 1-1.5 in. long. Flowers in terminal and axillaries, few-flowered corymbs-like racemes; calyx somewhat tubular, splitting on one side or into two, with 5 short; teeth; petals If to 1.75 in. long by 2.5 in. wide, oblanceolate, narrowed towards both ends. Stamens 3-4 only fertile. Fruit a pod, 6 to 12 in. long by .75 in. wide, somewhat woody, flat. .Seeds 12 to 16, 5/8 by 1/2 in. flat oblong-ellipsoid. Distribution: It grows wild sporadically throughout India, particularly in the hill tracts. Frequently cultivated for its showy flowers. It is also found in China. Gardening: Propagated by seed. The seeds should be sown in pots in April or May and regularly watered. The seedlings appear in about 4 to 10 days and should be transplanted during the rains. Uses: The tree yields a gum. The bark yields a fibre, and is also used in dyeing and tanning. The wood is used for making agricultural implements and for building. The leaves are used as fodder and the flowers as a pot herb in curries and made into pickle (chutni). The root is tonic and carminative; the flowers laxative, and the bark astringent. The bark or root and flowers, mixed with rice water, are used as a poultice for boils and abscesses. A decoction of the bark is recommended as a useful wash for ulcers. The bark of the underground root is poisonous even in small quantity, Note: The flowers appear after the rains and the fruit remains on the tree till the next hot season.