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NPIN: Native Plant Database

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Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)
Makin, Julie

Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis L.

Eastern redbud, Redbud

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Synonym(s):

USDA Symbol: CECA4

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Tree with short trunk, rounded crown of spreading branches, and pink flowers that cover the twigs in spring. Redbud is a 15-30 ft. tree with one to several picturesque, maroon-purple trunks and a wide, umbrella-like crown. Its pink flowers, borne in tight clusters along the stems and branches before new leaves appear, create a showy spring display. Smooth, heart-shaped, deciduous foliage does not have significant fall color. Trees from the southern part of the species’ range have smaller, glossier leaves and often a more compact form. Stunning tiny pink flower clusters cover the entire tree.

Three geographic varieties are recognized, with Cercis canadensis var. canadensis properly referred to as Eastern Redbud and occurring from the Atlantic coast to central Texas. It reaches the largest size, requires the most water, and has larger, less glossy leaves than the other varieties. Variety texensis, Texas Redbud, has smaller, glossier leaves with slightly wavy edges, a generally smaller form, and more of a tendency to have red seedpods than variety canadensis. It ranges from Oklahoma south through central Texas to northeastern Mexico. The smallest variety is C. canadensis var. mexicana, Mexican Redbud, with small, very glossy, wavy-edged leaves and a smaller, shrubbier stature than the others, occurring in west Texas and adjacent Mexico. All varieties are popular as ornamentals because of their brilliant early spring flowers, displayed en masse on the bare branches before the plant has leafed out. The flowers can be eaten as a salad or fried. A separate species, Cercis orbiculata, Western Redbud, occurs from Arizona to California. According to myth, Judas Iscariot hung himself on the related Judas-tree (Cercis siliquastrum L.) of western Asia and southern Europe, after which the white flowers turned red with shame or blood.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Cordate
Leaf Texture: Leathery
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Size Notes: 15-30
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower:
Fruit: Red, Brown Approximately 3-1/2 inches long.
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , MI , MO , MS , NC , NE , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: FL to TX, n. to PA, OH, s. MI, s. IA & s.e. NE
Native Habitat: Woods; stream banks; limestone bluffs

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Moist, fertile, well-drained soils.

Benefit

Use Food: Add flowers and flower buds to salads, breads and pancakes. They have a slightly sour taste, high in vitamin C. Young pods may be eaten raw, boiled or sauteed. (Tull)
Use Other: Boiled in water, redbud twigs produce a yellow dye. (Kershaw)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds
Deer Resistant: Moderate

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
Provides Nesting Materials/Structure for Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Propagation

Description: The simplest way to grow redbuds is to scarify seeds and plant outdoors in the fall. Cuttings are nearly impossible. Seedlings which may develop around mature trees are easily moved when very small.
Seed Collection: Harvest legumes when they turn brown and begin to dry. Early collection may minimize weevil damage. Collect large amounts to compensate for a high percentage of unsound seed. Air-dry seeds and store in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Scarify for 10-20 minutes in concentrated sulfuric acid, then stratify for 30-60 days at 41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: UPL UPL FACU UPL FACU FACU UPL
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
Campbell Family Nursery - Harmony, NC
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Toadshade Wildflower Farm - Frenchtown, NJ
Far South Wholesale Nursery - Austin, TX

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Fredericksburg Nature Center - Fredericksburg, TX
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Georgia Native Plant Society - Atlanta, GA
Longwood Gardens - Newark, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Additional resources

USDA: Find Cercis canadensis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Cercis canadensis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Cercis canadensis

Metadata

Record Modified: 2013-09-07
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG

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