Question: There are a number of purple flowering trees planted on Summerlin that bloom during the winter months. Do you know the name of the those trees and how tall do they grow? Our condo association is looking to replace a couple of damaged trees. I suggested that they be winter flowering and not larger than 20 to 30 feet tall at maturity. -Ron, Sanibel
Answer: The tree is the Hong Kong orchid tree, Bauhinia blakeana. It is at its best mostly from November into March. There are approximately 119 days of intense bloom so winter visitors will not miss its display. Flowers are sweetly fragrant and there might be an occasional hummingbird nectaring its flowers. Hong Kong orchid is a sterile tree. Unlike other Bauhinia species, it produces no seed pods and is therefore well contained in the landscape. In this way, it will not become an invasive species encroaching into natural areas. Flower petals will fall to the ground during the bloom period creating for some an unwanted litter. Placing it on a lawn is one way to deal with fallen petals. After flowering, the tree may become partially deciduous, and shabby looking for a month or so until it regains a spring coat of new leaves. Some trees will do well if fertilized to prevent nutritional deficiency.