The eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis, is in the bean family Fabaceae and is native to eastern North America from southern Ontario to northern Florida. Its showy flowers brings brilliant colors to spring and early summer.
The redbud tree usually grows from 20 to 30 feet high and spreads from 15 to 25 feet wide. It has a round shaped crown with irregular outline and grows fast.
Leaf: The leaves of the redbud is heart-shaped and broad, and two to five inches long. The leaves are simple, and the leaf pattern is alternate. The leaves turn bright yellow during fall, together with its showy flowers making it a very good landscape plant.
Flower | fruit: The redbud flowers in April and May before any leaves start to grow. The flowers have a butterfly shape form. The flowers remain almost closed and are opened by bees and other pollinators, preventing unwanted pollinators. The flowers may be on the trunk instead of all on the tips of branches, which is very rare in plants. The flowers have one pistil and ten stamens, and within the ten stamens one is smaller than the other nine that have the same size. Its fruits are brown pods from 1 to 3 inches with dry and hard cover. They are sometimes on the tree throughout the winter.
Trunk | Bark: The redbud usually has a short and often twisted trunk and spreading branches. The bark is dark colored, smooth and later becomes scaly with ridges.
Life span: When healthy, the redbud tree should live from 50 to 70 years. However, with certain pathogens, particularly verticilliim wilt, a wilt disease caused by fungi, and trunk cancer can significantly decrease its lifespan.
Photo By: Julia Giza
The redbud is a native tree or shrub to Illinois. It can live in a wide range of climatic conditions, allowing it to have a large geographical range. Within its range, in dry south Texas the annual precipitation is less than 510 mm (20 in), and in moist central Florida the annual precipitation can be 1270 mm (50 in). It exhibits a strong preference for, and can be used as an indicator of, alkaline soils. It often grows on rich and moist soils, usually in partial shade. The redbud grows well in a variety of soil textures but it is not found in coarse sands.
ES 203: SPRING FLORA OF THE GREAT LAKES
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