Cercis canadensis

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Cercis canadensis
Eastern redbud near Cincinnati, OH.
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Rosids
Order:Fabales
Family:Fabaceae
Genus:Cercis
Species:C. canadensis
Binomial name
Cercis canadensis
L.
Natural range of the Eastern Redbud
 
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Cercis canadensis
Eastern redbud near Cincinnati, OH.
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
(unranked):Angiosperms
(unranked):Eudicots
(unranked):Rosids
Order:Fabales
Family:Fabaceae
Genus:Cercis
Species:C. canadensis
Binomial name
Cercis canadensis
L.
Natural range of the Eastern Redbud

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud) is a large deciduous shrub or small tree, native to eastern North America from Southern Ontario, Canada south to northern Florida but can thrive as far west as California.

Eastern Redbud Blossoms
Detail of buds

Description[edit]

It typically grows to 6–9 m (20–30 ft) tall with a 8–10 m (26–33 ft) spread. It generally has a short, often twisted trunk and spreading branches. A 10-year-old tree will generally be around 5 m (16 ft) tall. The bark is dark in color, smooth, later scaly with ridges somewhat apparent, sometimes with maroon patches. The twigs are slender and zigzag, nearly black in color, spotted with lighter lenticels. The winter buds are tiny, rounded and dark red to chestnut in color. The leaves are alternate, simple, heart shaped with an entire margin, 7–12 cm (3-5 inches) long and wide, thin and papery, and may be slightly hairy below.

The flowers are showy, light to dark magenta pink in color, 1.5 cm (½ inch) long, appearing in clusters from Spring to early Summer, on bare stems before the leaves, sometimes on the trunk itself. The flowers are pollinated by long-tongued bees such as blueberry bees and carpenter bees. Short-tongued bees apparently cannot reach the nectaries. The fruit are flattened, dry, brown, pea-like pods, 5–10 cm (2-4 inches) long that contain flat, elliptical, brown seeds 6 mm (¼ inch) long, maturing in August to October.

In some parts of southern Appalachia, green twigs from the eastern redbud are used as seasoning for wild game such as venison and opossum. Because of this, in these mountain areas the eastern redbud is sometimes known as the spicewood tree.

In the wild, eastern redbud is a frequent native understory tree in mixed forests and hedgerows. It is also much planted as a landscape ornamental plant. The leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of some Lepidoptera, for example the Io moth (Automeris io).

Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' leaves.
Cercis Canadensis Leaf
Carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica) on redbud flowers.
Cardinalis cardinalis male feeding female, in a white-flowered Cercis canadensis

This tree is difficult to grow as far west as western Kansas and Colorado, as there is not sufficient water. Its far northern range of growth is southern New England. It grows well in New York State, New Jersey and southward.

Cultivation[edit]

C. canadensis is grown in parks and gardens, with several cultivars being available. The cultivar 'Forest Pansy', with purple leaves, has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[3]

Edibility[edit]

Native Americans consumed redbud flowers raw or boiled, and ate roasted seeds. Analysis of nutritional components in edible parts of eastern redbud reported that:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hilton-Taylor (2000). Cercis canadensis. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 5 May 2006.
  2. ^ Keeler, Harriet L. (1900). Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them. New York: Charles Scriber's Sons. pp. 104–108. 
  3. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  4. ^ Laura J. Hunter, et al. 2006. Analysis of nutritional components in edible parts of eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis L.). 62nd Southwest Regional American Chemical Society Meeting, Houston, Texas.

External links[edit]