Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Bauhinia cunninghamii Benth.) Benth.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Flowers [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves and Flowers. © B. Gray
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Bentham, G. (1864) Flora Australiensis 2: 295.

Common name

Bohemia Tree; Kimberley Bauhinia; Bauhinia; Red Bauhinia; Beantree; Joomoo; Jigal Tree


Bark dark brown or almost black when viewed from a distance. Deciduous; leafless for a period in the dry season.


Two leaflets in the compound leaf, each leaflet blade about 20-30 x 10-20 mm, sessile usually with 4 or 5 longitudinal radiating veins. A terminal spine or gland usually present between the leaflets.


Calyx and corolla pubescent on the inner and outer surfaces. Calyx tube and lobes coarsely rugose. Petals clawed. Stamens ten. Staminal filaments red, about 15-25 mm long. Pollen yellow. Ovary stalked, ovules about 15.


Pods flat, about 12-20 x 4-5.5 cm. Seed flat, about 10-12 x 7-10 mm. Cotyledons orbicular, much wider than the radicle.


Cotyledons oblong to obovate, about 12-15 mm long, fleshy, lacking venation, produced at ground level. First pair of true leaves compound with two leaflets. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves compound with two leaflets, leaflets +/- orbicular, unequal-sided, 3-5 veins radiating from the base. Stipules obovate. Seed germination time 7 to 81 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Australia, widespread in more inland parts of WA, NT, NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 500 m. Usually grows in open forest but also found in monsoon forest and similar closed forest communities.

Natural History & Notes

Has potential as a street tree for dry areas. Produces red flowers.

Aboriginal usage: The branches were used to make windbreaks in the dry season. They also make excellent smokeless firewood. Aboriginal people ate the sweet gum and sucked the nectar from the flowers. They also used the bark and wood to treat headache, as an antiseptic and as a remedy for fever. Kenneally et al. (1995).

Lysiphyllum cunninghamii (Benth.) de Wit, Reinwardtia 3 : 431(1956). Bauhinia cunninghamii (Benth.) Benth. f. cunninghamii, Queensland Agricultural Journal 25(6): 287(1910). Phanera cunninghamii Benth., Plantae Junghuhnianae enumeratio plantarum : 264(1852), Type: In Australia tropica ad Careening-Bay (Cunningham). Bauhinia hookeri var. broomensis Hochr., Candollea : 383(1925), Type: Australie, cote N.W., Broome, 4 fevrier 1905, arbre ou arbuste de 4-8 m., commun dans le bush et dans la ville (n. 2850). Bauhinia leichhardtii F.Muell., Transactions of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria 3: 50(1859), Type: Not rare in Arnhems Land and around the Gulf of Carpentaria. Bauhinia leichhardtii F.Muell. var. leichhardtii, Mr. Winnecke's Explorations During 1883 : 15(1884).
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