As a tree, the Chinese redbud may grow up to 15 metres (49 ft) tall with a trunk diameter of up to 50 centimetres (20 in), however, the species is normally found growing in shrub form. The flowers are pink or milky white in color whilst the leaf body is almost circular in shape, 6 to 14 centimetres (2.4 to 5.5 in) in length and tapers to a point at the end. Flowering in April, the Chinese redbud produces fruit in October.
Some people mistakenly call the Hong Kong orchid (Bauhinia blakeana) "Chinese rosebud" but they are different species and not from the same genus. However, since the Chinese name for Bauhinia blakeana (洋紫荆) translates literally as "foreign Chinese redbud", the characters "紫荆" continue to be used to refer to the species by official Chinese sources.