Friday, March 18, 2016

Flower Friday: Eastern redbud blooms signal the start of spring!

Redbud flowers. Photo: Eleanor Dietrich.
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Eastern redbud is a deciduous perennial tree that produces an abundance of striking magenta blooms. Its flowers are small, irregular and born in clusters of 4 to 8. Its simple leaves are cordate- to orbicular-shaped with entire margins and alternate arrangement. They are dull green and paper-thin, and range in size from 3 to 6 inches. Flowers appear before leaves. Seeds are flattened pods.

Eastern redbud typically blooms in March, at which time the entire crown of the tree will become covered in deep pink blooms. It occurs naturally in mesic hardwood hammocks. 

Eastern redbud depends on bees for pollination. Its leaves provide food for many caterpillars, including the io moth (pictured below).

Both the flowers and seeds are edible to humans; the flowers can be eaten raw or boiled and the seeds roasted.
Left: Io moth (Automeris io) caterpillars on redbud leaves. Photo: Gardening Solutions (Creative Commons license).
Right: Carpenter bee (
Xylocopa virginica) on redbud flower. Photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons.

Family: Fabaceae (Legume, pea or bean family)
Native range: Panhandle; North and West Central peninsula
Hardiness: 7-9b
Soil: Well-drained neutral to mildly acidic soil; can tolerate occasional periods of brief flooding
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 20-30’ tall; crown 15’+ spread
Propagation: Seed
Garden tips: Redbud is a relatively fast-growing flowering tree. Plant it with flowering dogwood for a beautiful, colorful spring display. It is susceptible to canker, so diseased branches should be pruned as soon as they are noticed. For more information, read the UF/IFAS publication on Eastern redbud.

Redbud plants are available from nurseries that specialize in Florida native plants. Visit www.plantrealflorida.org to find a nursery in your area.

Click here to see where redbud occurs naturally.

1 comment:

Cody Zinker said...

I planted an Eastern Redbud in the fall and I'm excited for when it blooms. It's just now starting to sprout leaves.