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Plant Profile: Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

 

Cercis_canadensis_TreeRedbud is a deciduous large shrub or small tree native to the open woodlands, woodland edges, meadows, and roadsides of Eastern US from Pennsylvania and Nebraska, south to Florida and Texas. It is a member of the legume family, Fabaceae, that also includes peas, lupines, and black locust. The heart-shaped leaves are dull to bluish green and three to five inches long turning yellowish green in the fall. The rosy-purple pea-like flowers ½” wide are produced in dense axillary clusters of four to ten on the branches before the leaves appear. They are followed by dry bean-like pods two to four inches long. Each pod contains six to twelve seeds and turns brown as it matures, sometimes persisting into fall and winter. In winter the twigs have a zig zag pattern that adds interest to the garden. Plants may be used as specimens, and in patios, borders, lawns, and woodland gardens. Many cultivars are available that vary in way ways including flower color, leaf color, and habit. The generic name Cercis comes from the Greek word kerkis meaning weaver’s shuttle and refers to the shape of the seed pods. The specific name canadensis refers to part of the geographic range of the plant.

Type: Deciduous, large shrub, small tree

Outstanding Feature: Flowers

Form: Broad, vase-shape

Growth Rate: Rapid

Bloom: Rosy-purple pea-like flowers ½” wide in dense axillary clusters of four to ten on the branches before the leaves appear in spring

Size: 20-35’ H x 20-40’ W

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 4-8

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: Canker, Verticillium wilt, dieback, leaf spot, mildew, blight; Japanese beetles, tree hoppers, leaf hoppers, caterpillars, borers, webworms, scale

Propagation: Fresh seed; older seed with stratification; cultivars by cuttings

Outstanding Selections:
‘Forst Pansy’ (purple leaves in early spring with darker flowers)
var. alba (white flowers)
‘Silver Cloud’ and Floating Cloud’ (cream variegation)
‘Covey’ (weeping)Flame’ (double flowers; seedless)