Bauhinia aureifolia – a newcomer in monsoon gardens?
This athletic climber, with its striking golden brown hairs, was described in 1989 as B. chrysophylla. Since that name was already used for another species, the name was changed in 1991 to B. aureifolia. The species seems to be endemic to an isolated mountain in southern Thailand. It can withstand shade, but the golden hairs are more pronounced in sunshine. In addition to the fascinating foliage, there are scented white flowers.
Since it originates in the south, we feared that like mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), it would demand a moist atmosphere and therefore be unsuitable for Chiang Mai gardens, where our drought may last for six months. However, our experience here at Dokmai Garden is that as long as you provide water for its roots, and let the plant face north, it thrives in our pronounced monsoon climate. We predict that within a few years, this species will be a common sight in Chiang Mai gardens. Remember that the most interesting feature of the plant is the leaf, so you should grow it on a low arbour or wall, not let it trail up a tree where the leaves disappear out of sight. This is truly a Thai treasure of the plant kingdom!