Seed of the Week: Anacacho Orchid Tree

Our mystery seeds from last week were very tricky.

mystery-seeds-247-2(The white object is a rice grain added for scale.)

First of all, they were from a legume, which have seeds that all seem to look alike. Secondly, they were from a type of orchid tree, the Anacacho orchid tree, Bauhinia lunarioides. We had just done another member of the same genus last week, so you probably wouldn’t have guessed that. Thirdly, the Anacacho orchid tree is somewhat rare and has a limited distribution, which is actually what made it interesting.

I promise the next mystery seed will be more straightforward.

anacacho-orchid-flowerLike the orchid trees from last week, this one has clusters of unusually-shaped flowers at the end of the branches. Unlike the Asian orchid trees, however, the Anacacho orchid tree is from North America, specifically Texas and northern Mexico.

Anacacho orchid tree-flower-02

The flower parts are also different from the Asian orchid trees. Do you remember the long stamens and stigma? The Anacacho orchid tree flower has one stigma and apparently only one stamen per flower. Can you see them in the photo above? It makes one wonder how it is pollinated.


The leaves also have a distinctive shape. Each leaf has two leaflets, making it look like it is split in half. The Asian orchid trees have a bi-lobed leaf.

Anacacho orchid tree-seed-pod014

The fruit is a flat pod that contains the seeds.

Anacacho orchid trees grow as large shrubs or small trees. They can sometimes be found for purchase at specialty nurseries in southwestern North America. They can also be grown from seed, although scarification may be necessary.

Have you ever seen an Anacacho orchid tree growing? What did you think of it?


  1. David Chidgey

    For those of you interested in propagating anacacho orchid trees by seeds, I have gotten a great success rate by harvesting the pods as soon as the pods are almost all brown. I open the pods and plant the seeds right away. I planted 6 seeds 2 weeks ago and all have sprouted. 100% success rate! Several years ago I found the pink flowering type at Medina Garden Nursery in Medina, Texas and these seedings are from that plant.

  2. Roberta

    Thanks for the great info.

  3. Virginia L Sawin

    Thank you for the information on starting these from seed. I have one tree (and lots of seeds). Want to try starting them. Do you scarify the seeds? If so, how do you do this?

  4. Roberta

    Basically you need to weaken the hard outer coat so water can get in. You can do that by nicking it or scraping it with sandpaper. Just remember to wear gloves to protect your fingers.

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