Bauhinia petersiana

Family: Fabaceae (Caesalpinoideae)

This tree is called msekese in Swahili. In English most of this genus are called orchid trees, on account of their showy flowers.

This is an evergreen or semi-deciduous scrambler or more usually a shrub or small tree with hooked woody tendrils. The leaves are thin, leathery and blue-green, divided into two lobes, like a heart. They are 3-6cm across. The flowers showy, open and coloured white or pink with a slight fragrance. Most appear between September and January but they can sometimes be seen at other times. The smooth chocolate-brown pods mature in the dry season and sometimes explode to distribute the seeds which are flat, brown and glossy.

The timber is not used but the tree is an important famine food for many of the peoples of southern and eastern Africa.