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Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Cercis canadensis L. var. texensis (S. Watson) M. Hopkins

Texas redbud

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Synonym(s): Cercis canadensis ssp. texensis, Cercis occidentalis

USDA Symbol: cecat

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

This Cercis canadensis variety is a large shrub or small tree, 10-20 ft. in height, differing from the more easterly Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis var. canadensis) in having smaller, more glossy, and usually hairier leaves with wavy edges, more of a tendency to have red seedpods, and a smaller stature. With a natural range extending from the mountains of southern Oklahoma through the limestone spine of central Texas south to northeastern Mexico, it is also more drought-tolerant than Eastern redbud, though less so than the smaller, more western Mexican redbud (Cercis canadensis var. mexicana). Like all Cercis canadensis varieties, its clusters of flowers appear in early spring before the leaves emerge and continue to bloom as the leaves develop. Leaves are heart shaped to kidney shaped, rounded at the tip, slightly wavy on the edges, and glossy, often with some hairiness on the underside. Flowers rose purple, in small clusters along the branches, appearing before the leaves, in March or early April. Fruit a flat, reddish brown pod up to 4 inches long and pointed at the tip. Deciduous leaves turn gold or red in fall. Seedpods are reddish purple and persist into the winter.

The redbuds of eastern North America have long been popular for their pink-purple early spring flowers that appear on bare wood before the leaves emerge. Texas redbud is the appropriate variety to use if you live on limestone soils from southern Oklahoma through central Texas to northeastern Mexico. It is drought-tolerant within its range, prefers dappled shade but is also found in full sun, and can do well even on relatively thin soils. Its glossy, rounded leaves bring welcome shade and its flowers attract pollinators.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Cordate , Ovate , Reniform
Leaf Venation: Palmate
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Acute , Obtuse
Leaf Texture: Leathery
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Size Notes: 10-20 ft
Leaf: Dark Green
Flower: Flowers 1/3-2/5 in. long
Fruit: Green to red or purplish red to reddish brown pods 2-4 in. long pod, about 1/2 in. wide or less, tapering at both ends, flat with several seeds 1/6-1/5 in. long.
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr
Bloom Notes: Color normally pink or purple, rarely white. White-flowered cultivars have been developed.

Distribution

USA: OK , TX
Native Distribution: Southern Oklahoma south through central Texas to Nuevo Leon in Mexico
Native Habitat: Dry slopes of canyons & foothills below 4500 ft. Edwards Plateau and limestone soils of north central Texas and eastern part of Plains Country.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Drought Tolerance: Medium , High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained, calcareous, rocky, sandy, loamy, or clay soils, usually limestone-based.
Conditions Comments: Drought- and cold-tolerant within its range. Give dappled shade when young. A selection called Sanderson is said to be the most drought-adapted Texas redbud cultivar.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: Showy, attractive, understory tree or accent tree.
Use Wildlife: The nectar is sought after by butterflies, bees, moths, and insects. The leaves are sometimes browsed by deer. The seeds are eaten by granivorous birds.
Use Food: The flowers are fried in Mexico. The flowers are acid and are sometimes pickled for salads. The nectar is of some value as a source of honey.
Use Medicinal: A fluid extract can be taken from the bark which is an active astringent used in the treatment of dysentery.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Henrys Elfin butterfly
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Moderate

Propagation

Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Propagate with scarified and stratified seed.
Seed Collection: Harvest pods as soon as they begin to dry to reduce insect damage.
Seed Treatment: Scarification and stratification necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

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.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Cercis canadensis var. texensis is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Elf
(Microtia elva)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Plants for wildlife and trees for shade.
September 29, 2007
We live in Kempner Texas, our land has mostly cedar trees. We would like to make a wildlife habitat on the back side of our property. Can you recommend plants that will grow in shade to partial sun,...
view the full question and answer

Invasive, non-native Paulownia
May 03, 2006
Hi. We would like to plant a fast growing tree that will provide shade for our house. What do you think of the Paulownia tree (Empress Tree) as a possibility for the Austin area? If this is not a g...
view the full question and answer

From the National Suppliers Directory

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

Hill Country Natives - Leander, TX

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Fredericksburg Nature Center - Fredericksburg, TX
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Sibley Nature Center - Midland, TX
Patsy Glenn Refuge - Wimberley, TX
Native Plant Society of Texas - Fredericksburg, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0716 Collected Mar 15, 1994 in Comal County by Mary Beth White

Bibliography

Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 481 - How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest: Revised and Updated Edition (2001) Nokes, J.
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 297 - Trees of Central Texas (1984) Vines, Robert A.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter1985 VOL. 2, NO.4 - Message From Helen Hayes, Head for the Hill Country, Spring Tours at the Center,...
Wildflower Newsletter1989 VOL. 6, NO.5 - Educator\\\'s Native Plants Poster Perfected, Pass a Law, Protect a Tree, Resear...

Additional resources

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

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2010-02-08
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG

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