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There is a metallic red leaf!

September 11, 2011

Are the flowers pretty? Yes, but not stunning. What is stunning are the amazing metallic red leaves on the flowering shoots. To my great joy there is still room for novelties that makes your heart ache. This gorgeous darling, which I loved tremendously even without the flowers, surprised me with another set of totally surreal leaves. I presume the metallic red copper leaves function like bracts, i.e. their glistering can not be resisted by connoisseur insects and they fly towards the sparkling treasure where they find goblets of nectar.

The endemic (uniquely Thai) golden leaf, Bauhinia aureifolia (Fabaceae) is a main attraction at Dokmai Garden. The flowers and the red shoots emerge during the lush emerald season (now). During the dry season which begins in November you may only admire its young vegetative shoots which are furry like an animal. They have superb young leaves too: a pistachio green top with brown veins and a golden bronze underside. The bronze-silver shimmering sheen of the immature folded leaves are amazing.

Enough said. Although my photographs are just shadows of reality, they may give you a hint of one of the most royal plants I know. Nota bene, the red leaves are young and fresh, not senescent:

Leaves of a flowering shoot.

Leaves of a flowering shoot.

Leaves of a vegetative shoot.

A comparison between the two leaf types – top side.

A comparison between the two leaf types – underside. Leaf of flowering shoot to the right.

A comparison between the two shoot types.

…and finally the flowers!

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Craig permalink
    October 4, 2012 11:21 AM

    At last! I bought a leaf of this as a souvenir from Queen Sirikit BG but it wasn’t labelled. Great to finally find the species. Thanks! I wonder how much shade you think this could tolerate? I have a trellis in a small clearing that gets some sun but is lightly shaded most of the day. Is it a real a sun lover?

    • October 5, 2012 7:33 AM

      Labeling is our pride 🙂

      Like most other lianas it likes to have the roots in the moist shade, and then grow up in the sun. Our specimen has a powerful growth. It is planted on the northern side of a trellis which in turn is situated on the north side of a wall.

      I believe this liana should have no shade at all. This year I cut down a tree which blocked the scenery from a distance. The liana tried to climb it, but the effect of keeping the liana on the trellis only is more appealing.

      Good luck!

      Eric & Kate

  2. October 5, 2012 11:10 PM

    Thanks! I’m still very tempted to give it a go. There’s a neighbouring tree I’m hungry to cut down anyway. If it get the green light, the Bauhinia gets planted for sure.

    • October 6, 2012 8:05 AM

      You are a true gardener – testing the limits is fun!

      Please share your experience with us.


  3. Aree permalink
    March 15, 2013 10:47 PM

    I have not seen this plant before. I would love to have it, but I have many Lychi trees that block the sun most of the time!

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