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Tuesday - May 26, 2009

From: Dearborn, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Failure to thrive of Eastern Redbud in Dearborn, MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Our Eastern Redbud, multi-stem tree has done well for several years. This year the pods did not fall off, the tree looks anemic, lots of dead stems, no pink blooms this spring. What can we do??


Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud) is native to Michigan and, indeed, is found growing in and around Wayne County. In Southeastern Michigan you are in USDA Hardiness Zones 5b (average annual minimum temperature of -20 to -15) to Zone 6a (-10 to -5). However, we are aware that Michigan had a really bad winter, lots of cold, lots of snow, wind, ice, all of which could have contributed to your tree's problems.

This Ohio State University website Cercis canadensis will give you several possible answers to your question, but maybe no solutions. From this site, we got this list of liabilities for the tree:

  • often has a functional life of 10 to 20 years in urban landscapes due to a combination of urban stresses, diseases, and pests
  • prone to trunk canker, heartwood rot, Verticillium wilt, and scales, the first three of which can be slowly fatal
  • often leans with age
  • somewhat prone to storm damage with advanced age (due to leaning and heartwood rot)

We are going to offer you several websites on the various possibilities, so you can try to discover what the problem is. 

Canker Diseases of Trees from Kansas State University Cooperative Extension

Heartwood Rot of Trees from Iowa State University

Verticillium Wilt from the University of Illinois Extension

If you are really determined to save your tree, you can contact the Michigan State University Extension Office for Wayne County; possibly they can make suggestions for treatment or recommend a licensed arborist who will come to the site to diagnose and hopefully treat the problem. 

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis




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