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The St. Thomas tree is a small tree or it can also be found as a multi-stemmed shrub. As a tree, it normally reaches a height of about 12 to 24 feet (but can grow taller). The branches are drooping and have numerous slender twigs. The bark is gray and smooth and becomes brown in color as the tree ages. The leaves are alternate, leathery, deeply divided, bilobate, pale green, with entire margins and a leaf stalk. The leaves are also about 1 to 3 inches long and wide, they also resemble a butterfly. Additionally, the Flowers are bell-shaped, pendulous, yellow with a black to maroon center, and about 2 to 3 inches long. Furthermore, the fruit is a slender, brown, velvety, woody pod about 4 inches long, containing several reddish seeds, these are used for propagation.
Nearly all the parts of the tree play a role in traditional medicine. Yet, the Seeds of the St.Thomas tree are said to be poisonous; Also, handling the plant can cause an allergic reaction. In cultivation, the St. Thomas tree tolerates various soil types if it is well-drained. The Bauhinia Tomentosa / St.Thomas tree is an outstanding medium-sized ornamental with its showy flowers and very unusual leaves. It can be grown as a specimen or street tree, in a large planter or large conservatory. As a shrub, it provides an excellent barrier for boundary planting and is easily pruned. The St. Thomas tree does not have aggressive roots and can be cultivated close to buildings.
Other names: Yellow Bauhinia, Yellow Bell Orchid Tree