Eastern Redbud: A Superb Tree for Almost Any Landscape

Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is small, graceful tree native to the eastern and central United States.
Eastern Redbud: A Superb Tree for Almost Any Landscape - Articles
Eastern Redbud: A Superb Tree for Almost Any Landscape

Eastern redbud – Cercis canadensis – is small, graceful tree native to the eastern and central United States.

It is typically found in open woodlands, thickets, woodland margins, and along streams and bluffs, often on limestone soils. It blooms before and as the leaves emerge, with rosy-pink, pea-like flowers that are borne in fascicles of four to eight. The flowers are held close to the branches, and even bloom along the trunks, clothing almost every inch in bloom. Trees may be trained to a single trunk or grow multi-stemmed. Eastern redbud has a flat-topped to rounded growth habit, and large heart-shaped leaves.

Fall foliage color is variable, but can be a good, clear yellow. Eastern redbud is in the Fabaceae (legume) family, so the fruits are brown to black pods typical of that family. While most members of the legume family are able to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, eastern redbud lacks the nodules and bacteria necessary for that process.

Eastern redbud grows 20-30 feet tall and 25-35 feet wide, making it a suitable choice for small landscapes. It grows best in full sun to part shade and evenly moist, well-drained soils, but is adaptable to most soils as long as drainage is good. It is also tolerant of acid or alkaline soils. Eastern redbud is hardy in USDA Zones 4-9.

Use as a specimen, patio or lawn tree, in small groups or naturalized plantings. Eastern redbud is excellent with spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips that are in bloom at the same time.

Cultivars include:

  • 'Ace of Hearts' - The shiny green leaves are about half the size of the species, and overlap, giving them a ranked appearance on the branches. 'Ace of Hearts' grows about half the size of the species.
  • 'Alba' - Blooms with white flowers, but otherwise similar to the species.
  • 'Covey' (Lavender Twist™) - A weeping form with stiff, contorted branches.
  • 'Forest Pansy' - The new growth emerges a vibrant burgundy color, and flowers are purpler than the straight species. Leaves harden off to green as they mature.
  • 'Hearts of Gold' - New growth emerges yellow tinged with red, then matures yellow to green.
  • 'Silver Cloud' - The foliage is variegated with irregular white splotches. Does not flower as heavily as the straight species. Protect from hot afternoon sun.
  • The Rising Sun™ - The new growth emerges golden-orange, matures to yellow, and hardens off to green.

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