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Bauhinia cunninghamii (Jigal Tree)

Formerly known as Lysiphyllum cunninghamii, the Jigal Tree (also known as Kimberley Bauhinia) is a common feature of the Kimberley with stunning pinky- red flowers and a rough dark grey bark. This tree grows to around 6 metres in height and often hosts natives bees who are attracted to its nectar. The leaves and pods are eaten by stock , and are relatively high on protein and minerals. Bauhinia trees drop their leaves in the late dry season, although pods and new leaves appear often just before the rains. Kimberley Aboriginal people are known to suck the sweet nectar from the flowers and eat the sweet gum. The wood is smokeless and often used for cooking and branches are used to make windbreaks!  The Jigal is so called because its leaves face back to back as in the term Jigal, used to describe the (avoidance) relationship between son-in-law and mother-in-law in Kimberley Aboriginal culture. According to Aboriginal Law, mother-in-law and son-in-law must not directly face each other.

The flowering occurs from April – October, fruiting from September – December.


1. Douglas Laing - August 8, 2012

I was born in Mount Isa on the 31st of August 1936 and there was a Jigal tree flowering just outside my mother´s hospital room window in the Mount Isa Mines Hospital…she often told me what it was like to awaken on Sept.1 to see the pink flowers on her white hospital bedspread.

broomegirl - August 20, 2012

What a great memory to have Douglas, and it’s wonderful to have a tree associated with a birth – be it one planted to honour a birth or a significant tree shading an expectant mother out bush or in hospital like one at the Isa. The Jigal is such a hardy tree too and its flowers generous with nectar for honeyeaters.

2. Douglas Laing - August 20, 2012

Dear Broomegirl ….Thanks for your kind words. Our story is not fully told. During the night of the 31st of August 1936 my father was told by Dr Ryan that my mother would probably not live the night but that I would probably be saved. I was large and in a breach birth presentation and she was a very small woman. She lived to be 97. The Jigal tree blessed my awakening on the first day of spring, i.e. about when it normally flowers in northern Australia. The hospital with it´s Jigal trees no longer exists since the valley is now a Xstrata hole in the ground.

broomegirl - August 27, 2012

Wow, amazing story. I think the gentle Bauhinia has indeed blessed you and your mother! And sad to think of the change that’s been wrought upon the place. The Jigal are in flower here in Broome right now, heavy with nectar delighting the birds, but the fallen blooms are very prickly on bare feet. And happy birthday for this Friday, Douglas!

3. mabrouk99@hotmail.com - August 27, 2012

WOW Douglas,,, so on the night of 31st August 1936, you came to light smiling to a flowering Jigal!!.. At that moment I may have been concievedd and later saw light at the dawn of 7th April 1937, the third in line of 7 children to an Egyptian farming family. Two bloodiest babies, one in AUZ and the other on the Nile bank. Later to meet at 1964 ASA annual meetings showing themselves as progressive and innovative young crop physiologists far away in the Gringos land!!. Then ended up in the lands of the Mayas/Incas…. natives of the stolen Amerindia!!.. HAVE A VERY HAPPY FRIDAY BIRTHDAY PARTY GORDO!!…MAB.

Douglas Laing - January 6, 2019

Mabrouk..January 6 2019 ..I realy do cherish our long friendship .. ABRAZOS…….DOUGLAS

4. Bush tucker | the remote nutritionist - August 23, 2015

[…] flower (photo courtesy of https://skipas.wordpress.com/native-plants/plant-d-f/fabaceae/bauhinia-cunninghamii-kimberley-bauhin&#8230😉 The nectar inside the flower – just a little […]

Douglas Laing - January 7, 2019


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