(Seasonal Highlights) Kowloon Tsai Park

In the centre of the hustle Kowloon City District sits the tranquil Kowloon Tsai Park, opened back in 1964, stretching over 11.6 hectares. Famous for its Bauhinia Garden, the park is home to over 100 Bauhinia trees, popular amongst locals, flower lovers and photographers during November to March, when bright pink flowers blossoms on tree crown.

Bauhinia x blakeana, commonly known as the Hong Kong Orchid Tree, is the city flower of Hong Kong and one of the well-known flowering trees in Hong Kong. First discovered in Pok Fu Lam in 1880s by the fathers of the Mission Etrangérès in Hong Kong, who had cut the branches for transplanting. The flowers of Hong Kong Orchid Tree are large and eye-catching, which contribute to its popularity as a horticultural tree species. The leaves are also known as the “clever leaf”, referred as a symbol of wisdom, where some people creates bookmarks with the leaves, hoping the leaves will bless their studies.

However, the species is infertile, and can only be propagated through artificial means such as grafting. The species epithet “blakeana” in its scientific name was adopted for memorializing the 12th Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Henry Arthur Blake and his wife for their contribution on botanical research and the Hong Kong Botanic Gardens (the current Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens). Hong Kong Orchid Tree was identified as a new species and named by the then Superintendent of the Botanical and Forestry Department S. T. Dunn in 1908.

According to modern molecular studies, the species is a crossed hybrid. Its female parent is the Purple Camel's Foot (Bauhinia purpurea L.) while the Camel's Foot Tree (Bauhinia variegata L.) is the paternal plant.