Bauhinia excelsa excelsa

Bauhinia excelsa (Bl. ex Miq.) Prain var. excelsa

Morphological description
Large tendrilled climber ; young branches woolly brown pubescent, later glabrous.

Leaves: stipules orbicular to oblong, rarely acutish, silky brown hirsute outside, thinly pubescent inside, early caducous, c. 8 by 5 mm; petiole slender, brownish pubescent, (1-)2-5 cm; lamina ovate or obovate to suborbicular, 5-10 cm across, bifid 1/4-1/3, tip of lobes rounded, base more or less cordate, 9-11-nerved; upper surface glabrous, lower thinly rusty pubescent when young, later glabrescent.

Inflorescence: terminal and lateral, usually narrow racemes, 10-25 cm long; axis and other floral parts outside brownish pubescent; pedicels 2.5-5 cm; bracts narrow lanceolate, 8-10 mm, early caducous; bracteoles similar but smaller, inserted below the middle of the pedicel.

Flowers: Buds densely brownish tomentose, ellipsoid to clavate, ± apiculate, (1.5-)2-3.5 cm, with 5 longitudinal grooves. Hypanthium broadly tubular, usually conspicuously striate, 10-18 mm long, slightly dilated on one side at base. Calyx early splitting into 5 reflexed, strap-shaped sepals, 2-3.5 cm, glabrous inside. Petals creamy-white turning yellow, subequal, blade elliptic to narrow obovate to spathulate, gradually or abruptly narrowed towards the fleshy claw, (20-)35-50 by (5-)10-20 mm, outside densely rusty silky hairy, inside glabrous except for the 5-10 mm long claw. Stamens 3 fertile; filaments pink, 4-5 cm, glabrous; anthers red, elliptic-oblong, 10-20 mm; staminodes 2, filiform, 10-20 mm. Ovary 10-15 mm, rusty tomentose, stipe 10-15 mm; style thick, 15-20 mm, tomentose; stigma green, large peltate, oblique, c. 5 mm.

Pods oblong lanceolate, 13-25 by 4-5 cm, with a 1 cm long beak; pubescent when young, later glabrous.

Seeds (3-)4-6, flat, orbicular, 1.5-2 cm across.

Malesia: widely distributed on Borneo.

Occurring from the lowlands up to 1500 m alt.; the highest records are from Mt Kinabalu.

Vernacular names
Dadakop (Dusin); Dakup-dakup (Kedayan); Kulabid (Malay).

As a native medicine.

1. Bauhinia excelsa is particularly polymorphous in the size and shape of the floral parts. De Wit, (1956), writes that Merrill's Bauhinia megalantha cannot be maintained at species level, but may be kept as a variety of B. excelsa mainly on account of its larger flowers; this view has been even clearer with the more ample material we have had available. It is evident that there is a gradual variation in the size of the floral parts; furthermore the size of the sepals and petals of the type specimen of B. megalantha does hardly deviate from the size of the type of B. excelsa. On the other hand there are small-flowered specimens of B. excelsa showing some resemblance with B. semibifida, but the petals are always densely hairy on the outer side; their measures are given in parenthesis in the description above.

2. Petals may vary in colour from yellow to red (in different stages of development) or white with pink stripes; most plants, however, seem to have flower colours as indicated above.