What Is The National Flower of Hong Kong?
Bauhinia blakeana is the national flower of Hong Kong. Bauhinia blakeana itself is the scientific name and this purple beauty is commonly known as Hong Kong tree orchid. This is a hybrid between Bauhinia variegata and Bauhinia purpurea and it is sterile, which means it does not generally produce seeds or fruits. This hybrid tree gets its propagation done by grafting, cuttings and air-layering.
The first Hong Kong orchid tree was found around 1880 by Jean-Marie Delavay, a French Catholic missionary out hiking in the countryside. Near a ruined building, he found a single tree with incredible magenta flowers, and took a cutting. It is believed that all the Hong Kong orchids alive today are the descendants of that single plant. Since the plant was discovered, over 25,000 cuttings have been made and they can be found all over Hong Kong. This is why Bauhinia blakeana (aka. Hong Kong Orchid) is the National flower of Hong Kong.
Facts about Hong Kong’s National Flower (Bauhinia blakeana)
- Common Name: Hong Kong Orchid
- Genus: Bauhinia
- Species: blakeana
- Found in: All over Hong Kong
- Color: purple, pink, magenta, white or lavender
- Number of petals: 5
- Time of blooming: Early November to end of March
- Purpose: Medicinal and Ornamental tree
- Symbolism: Strength and vitality
Bauhinia blakeana is the favorite national flower symbol of the Hong Kong people. They are called orchid trees for their flowers or butterfly trees for their leaves. Hong Kong orchids are small semi deciduous trees or a legume tree of the genus Bauhinia, with large thick leaves and stunningly beautiful 5-petalled purplish red flowers. This medium sized hybrid tree is among the most popular of the orchid trees. The fragrant, orchid-like flowers are usually 10 to 15 centimetres (3.9 to 5.9 in) across. They start to bloom from early November and continue till the end of March. Each year, the orchid tree blossoms with flashy masses of large, sweetly scented, 5-inch-wide purple, pink, magenta, white or lavender blooms which delicately resemble the orchid.
The most prominent feature is the butterfly shaped leaf consisting of only 2 broad leaflets. Its white flowers appear from autumn through winter. Flowers are followed by slender brown flat seedpods that ripen after the flowering season has passed. Today, the orchid tree is one of the most popular flowering trees for warm-weather climates. It blends well into almost any landscape and can provide welcome shade during the summer. The flower of the Bauhinia blakeana orchid tree, named after a former governor of Hong Kong, was chosen as the colony’s emblem more than 50 years ago. Since 1997 the flower appears on Hong Kong’s coat of arms, its flag and its coins.
Beauty and shade are not all this tree offers. Many parts of the orchid tree have medicinal uses, oils are extracted from the seeds, leaves and bark are used for tanning and dyeing, the timber is excellent and the young seedpods, leaves and buds are a treat as vegetables. In Hong Kong, the leaf is known as the “clever leaf”, and is regarded as a symbol of wisdom. Some people use the leaves to make bookmarks in the hope that they will bring them good luck in their studies.
To sum up, Bauhinia blakeana is the people’s favorite national flower of Hong Kong. Bauhinia blakeana is one of the finest of this particular genus anywhere in the world and relating to the history of Hong Kong (the way in which the Colony itself originated and from which it continues to draw its strength and vitality), it is no wonder that the Bauhinia blakeana would be accepted as the national flower of Hong Kong.