Bauhinia acuminata L.

Last updated: 01 Oct 2015

Scientific Name

Bauhinia acuminata L. 


Bauhinia linnaei Ali [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Bunga perak [2], penawar seribu, tapak kuda, bauhinia putih [3]
English Bell bauhinia, butterfly, dwarf white bauhinia, mountain ebony, orchid tree, snowy orchid tree plant, St. Thomas’ tree, white bauhinia, yellow bauhinia, yellow butterfly tree [3]
India Aralu mandaara, bilimandara, bilikancivalada, kachna, kaha-petan, kanchana, karbudarah, mandaram, tiruvathi, tevataru, vellaimantarai, veluttamandaru [2], Kaanchnaara, Kovidaara (Ayurvedic); Kachnaal (Unani); Vellaimandarai (Siddha/Tamil) [4]
Indonesia Kupu-kupu (Java); penawar seribu (Sunda) [2]
Thailand Kalong [2], som sio [3]
Myanmar Mahahlegabyu [2]
Japan Moku-wan-ju [2]

Geographical Distributions

Bauhinia acuminata is an extremely widespread species through most of South East Asia. The exact native range is obscure due to extensive cultivation, but probably from Malaysia, Indonesia (Java, Borneo, Kalimantan, Lesser Sunda Islands), and Philippines. [5]

Botanical Description

B. acuminata is a member of the Fabaceae family. It is a rapidly growing shrub that can reach up to 3 m tall. It rises with several strong, smooth, upright stems with many slender branches; young twigs being pubescent. The stipules linear-lanceolate measures are 1 cm long. [6][7]

The leaves are cordate or nearly so are the base, bilobed to about one third of their length with obtuse or acute lobes 9-11 nerve, sparsely pubescent beneath, about 10 cm long and broad. The flowers appear at the extremities of the branches 3-4 in a loose bunch with white petals. The pedicels measures are 6-12 mm long. [6][7]

The flower buds fusiform, long attenuate at the apex and 5 setaceous dents, measures 3 cm long. The calyx-limb laterally splitting, spathaceous; receptacle short. The petals obovate, measure 4 cm long and 2 cm wide. The stamens 10 all fertile, shorter than the petals; anthers small. The ovary shortly stipitate, sparsely pubescent. [6][7]

The pods are linear-oblong, stipitate, measure 10 cm long and 1.5 cm wide, dark brown in colour containing 10 roundish compressed seeds. [6][7]


This shrub is found in well-drained and sunny places on hillsides and plains and in dry dipterocarp forests. It grows on a variety of soils and is a species of secondary forest. [5]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation

Plant Part Used

Bark, leaves, flowers and roots. [5]

Traditional Use

B. acuminata has been traditionally used in the treatment of various afflictions of the body by Asian people. It has been used to treat conditions like gastrointestinal disease, respiratory disease, leprosy and treat skin diseases. [4][8][9]

The bark and leaves in a decoction help relieves biliousness, common cold, sore and cough. The Indians made used of the bark and leaves in a decoction to treat stone in the bladder, venereal diseases and leprosy. The decoction of the leaves and bark is also given for allying asthmatic attack [4]. Amongst the Mullu kuruma tribe of Karella the decoction of the bark is used in treating urinary discharge (gonorrhea). They make use of paste of the leaves applied on the throat for throat troubles. It is applied externally to treat skin diseases [9].

The roots seem to be the part made used of by the Javanese in treating cough and cold [8]. In India, the root is boiled in oil and applied to burns [4].

Preclinical Data

No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1 Bauhinia acuminata L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2010 July 14; cited 2015 Oct 01]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume I A-B. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 548-549
  3. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 104
  4. Khare CP, editor. Indian medicinal plants: An illustrated dictionary. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2007; p. 85
  5. Encyclopedia of Life. Bauhinia acuminate. Dwarf White Bauhinia. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2015 Nov 24]. Available from:
  6. Encyclopaedia Perthensis; or, Universal dictionary of knowledge. Volume III. United Kingdom: Edinburgh, 1816; p. 391
  7. Lanjouw J, Pulle AA, Stoffers AL. Flora of suriname. Volume 2. Amsterdam: Royal Tropical Institute, 1939; p. 45
  8. Johnson T. CRC ethnobotany desk reference. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 1999; p. 110
  9. Silja VP, Varma KS, Mohanan K. Ethnomedicinal plant knowledge of the Mullu kuruma tribe of Wayanad district, Kerala. Indian J Tradit Know. 2008;7(4):604-612.