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Bauhinia / Kachnar ( Camel's Foot / Orchid tree)


Bauhinia Variegata  (Latin Name) is an exquisite medicinal tree which is native to India and China.  The Kachnar Tree, (Hindi name ) has been a part of India's medical texts and pharmacopeias for a long time BC.

Other names include Mountain Ebony, Butterfly Ash, Camel's Foot Tree and many other name variations.  

The Bauhinia is considered a weed and invasive in Zambia and many other parts of the world,  however there is a movement in the US to include this in their food. This tree is part of the legume family.   It also is believed to have a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobia Bacteria which help fix atmospheric nitrogen and improve soil fertility.  

The mauve and white flowers and buds were gathered by the women for festivals but also for storage as a precious medicine to treat malaria headaches and snakebites.

Recorded in Sanskrit as KANCHMARA, the bark and flowers make an antiseptic wash.   The flowers also have a gentle laxative effect and a comforting tea for fevers.

Well researched medical treatments by Ayurvedic doctors, make use of Bauhinia for glandular and women's issues including hormone imbalance, controlling menstrual flow, thyroid, hemorrhoids and diarrhea. Also thought to be useful in treating worm infestations and lowering of blood sugar.   Another use is for controlling pain and alleviating fever.   The species has antibacterial, anti fungal and anti inflammatory properties.     It is rich in  Vitamin B and C as well as other minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.


The leaves, flower buds, young pods and seeds are used. Flower buds and leaves are used in India as a vegetable made with onion and  curry powder to eat with rice. The buds are also used in making pickles. 

It is also believe to be beneficial used a animal fodder.  Leaves, seeds and young pods are used beneficially.

Harvesting and Processing:

Bauhinia flowers and buds should be picked in spring as the flowers open is best but also the fully open flowers.   Flowers can be dried on brown paper.  Turn these daily and once fully dried pack the flowers into glass jars with close fitting lids. Store them in a dark cupboard.

Twigs and small branches can be clipped off at any time of the year.  Peel the bark off immediately. The longer you leave it the harder it is to peel. 

The fresh and dried flowers buds and leaves can be used in cooking.

The bark is used in teas to ease menstrual issues, gargle for difficult swallowing, thyroid swelling and sore throats.  

In the case of malaria, the bark tea can be taken 4/6 times a day while the flowers are used in a bath as a wash to help lessen fever.

This is an ancient remedy but still used today.


To Make A Bark Tea:

Cut a few supple branches into finger size lengths, Strip off the bark with a sharp knife.  Pound the pieces using a pestle.  Simmer for 1.5 cups of bark pieces in 2 liters of water for 15 minutes.  Stir frequently.   Sip half a cup slowly 3 times a day for sore throats or gargle.

To make a Flower Tea:

Pour a cup of boiling water over 1/4 cup fresh of dried flowers.    Let the tea stand for 5 minutes.  Stir frequently, then strain and sip. 

A cinnamon stick, or a few cloves or cardamon pods can be added to ease digestion and release tension.

This can also be used by adding a larger quantity of the tea to a bath to help sooth premenstrual tension, bloating and irritability.

In the case of overweight  middle aged men and women, Ayurvedic doctors prescribe a tea made from powdered root to assist with weight loss. 


The flowers are also used as an effective old remedy as a gentle laxative. 

Gentle bauhinia flower Laxative:

1 cup bauhinia flowers

2 tsp honey

2 cups of water.

Gently simmer the ingredients together for 10 minutes.  Strain and take 1/2 cup when you wake up in the morning and every half an hour until the brew is finished.  Combine with pawpaw for breakfast.   This remains a popular, safe and effective remedy for constipation. 



   Use a muslin or organza bag to make
   a bauhinia flower bath bag.  
   Fill with young flowers and buds and
   hand under the running water as you
   fill the bag.

 Makes for a relaxing bath to sooth way  tension, aches and pains.


A Bauhinia Flower Bath Vinegar.

  • Gather some half open  Bauhinia flowers and some buds
  • 1 Bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar.  or white grape vinegar.
  • Fill the bottle of vinegar with the half open flowers and buds.
  • Stand the bottle in a  warm place ( not direct sunlight) for 10 days.
  • Give it a daily shake.  Strain and repeat using fresh flowers.
  • Finally pour the vinegar into a storage jar and discard the old flowers.
  • Add 1 or 2 fresh flowers and label.
  • Use 1.2 cup at a time in the bath or add to the rinsing water after shampooing your hair.  
  • This makes a lovely gift because it looks amazing and is very unusual.

This Vinegar can also be used on salad dressings and for stir fries.



Fabric Dying as been  done since ancient times.  With a new focus being put on  companies to find Eco friendly and sustainable fabric dyeing options flowers like Bauhinia with its beautiful vibrant pink /purple colour as again come into focus.  

It makes sense that this flower would be explored because if is abundant. 

The flowers can be used for natural fabric dying.  The colour achieved a various browns .  You will need to test the fabric.  We suggest using a natural silk or natural cotton.

Different amounts of flowers and also the length of soaking will yield different colour intensity.    Record your results carefully so that you can repeat and obtain a more or less consistent colour when making in the future.    Colour will vary from a grey brown to a more  yellow hue and various colorways of brown.

You can also test using the bark. 

As Fabric dying detailed process we will not cover this here.  Please do your own research in this regard if this interests you.   A really interesting project to undertake and sharing results would be welcomed.

There is quite a lot of research that has been done and the entire natural fabric dying process can be found on the internet. 











We cant's forget the Seed pods from the Bauhinia. 

Noticing the spiral pods of Kachnar (Bauhinia variegata) seeds lying on the ground you can't help thinking what could be made with them. 

As soon as the pod bursts and scatters the seed, the spiral takes shape. 

  • Take a wooden fruit basket  or improvise with another basket you might have at home. 
  • Taking pods of about the same size, drill a small hole on their stalk end.
  • Thread copper wire through the hole, and tie it to the basket. 
  • Using drill make a hole in the middle of the fruit basket so that the electrical wire could pass through here. 
  • To hide the wire and to match the theme of the project, wrap jute thread on it by applying some art glue.
  • Attach a power plug on one end of the wire and a light bulb fitting to the other.  
  • Finally, coat the entire lamp with acrylic clear spray so that the  colour remains on the pods.  

Some Final Ideas and comments.:


        I just loved  this sugar art. 



I cannot help but think there is so much more than can be done with parts of the Bauhinia.   The pods i am sure could be put to a lot more practical good uses.

Maybe Art.  This could be done while pods are still whole, not yet split.  Similar to the Flamboyant Pods.   This is a collection of pods showing their different colours.



I hope this information was of some use to you.  There can be no doubt that this is a valuable tree with both medicinal and food value.  There are recipes available which use the fresh flower buds as a valuable source of food and the dried flowers are also put to good use during winter and in times of food shortage.    I hope this will entice you to do some more research and put some of the recipes to use.

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