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Eastern Redbud

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COMMON NAME: Eastern Redbud
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cercis canadensis
FAMILY: Fabaceae

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 – 7

Origin: This tree is an American native found primarily east of the Mississippi.  Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) is native to California.

Growth Habit: Slow to medium growth rate, redbuds are considered a small tree with a mature height usually less than 25′ and a spread of 20’.  Very often this tree develops a multi-stem branching habit at ground level. It can be pruned into a single stem, and regular pruning on younger trees is highly recommended to develop a desirable form and branching habit.
Leaves:  Leaves are dark green, alternate, simple and heart-shaped, 3-5″ wide.

Twigs: Young branches are reddish brown and turn gray with maturity.  They have a slight zigzag growth pattern.

Flowers: Reddish purple bud opening to an extremely showy pink. In Colorado, normally open in mid-April and bloom for two to three weeks. Flowers are produced along both young and old stems.  There are redbud cultivars with white flowers.

Fruit: A small legume, 2″ to 4″ long, 1/2″ wide and flat. Pods can hang on tree through the winter months.

Bark: Slightly furrowed brownish gray and flaky as tree matures.

Landscape Value:  They have a wide range of adaptability in Zones 4 to 9 and are found in many of Colorado’s communities. The small size and colorful flowers make this tree very suitable for accent plantings. They are stunning in bloom when planted in groups.  Plant in an area where it is allowed to branch and spread as it pleases.  Redbuds can grow nicely in lightly shaded areas but are typically a full sun tree. Some cities have used them as street trees if the “tree lawn” (curb to sidewalk) is 8′ or larger.  Because they are smaller trees a low-branching habit is preferred. Tree does best in well drained soils but has shown adaptation to the Rocky Mountain alkaline and clay soil conditions.

Insects and Diseases: At this time there are no major insects or diseases on redbuds in Colorado.

Cultivars: Various selections are available in the nursery trade; some with white flowers, different shades of pink, purple leaves or dwarf growth habit.

Information Sources: Michael Dirr, Manual of Woody Landscape Plants (University of Georgia, 1990)   Wholesale nursery catalogs.