Thursday, April 15, 2010

Look, The Cercis is in Town!

Okay, the title is really silly, I know. In case you want to know how to say it, think big tops and elephants. This past Winter has been well documented as really nasty all over the country, I don't need to remind you of this. The South is not accustomed to two solid weeks of below freezing night time temperatures and 3-7 inches of Snow. I joke around and tell anybody that even mentions snow, I will pop them with a toboggan!
However, I will admit, this Winter was good for numerous reasons. I fully believe that Mother Nature hit the reset button. There are things flowering this year that either have never flowered before or are flowering so heavy it is almost magical. Case in point is my Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud). Check out this color:

They have never been this pretty. I will also admit, these were taken a couple of weeks ago and the tree is starting to produce leaves now. But even the leaves are pretty. These are young leaves:

Eastern Redbud is a small, short lived deciduous tree (meaning it looses it's leaves) found throughout the eastern United States. It's range is from New Jersey to the panhandle of Florida and as far west as Nebraska and Texas. Zones 4-9.
It can grow on a wide range of well draining soils, though it does not like course sands. They average 20-30 feet tall, and 25-35 feet wide.
Redbuds flower in the early Spring and produce seed pods. The pods are 2 to 3", brown, and in clusters. They will contain anywhere from 4 to 10 seeds. Most seeds are dispersed during Fall and Winter by the wind and animals. Many seeds are injured by insects. Those that fall to the ground usually remain dormant for several years.
Redbuds can be propagated by seed. Dried seeds can be stored in glass jars or a metal container at 35 to 41 degrees. The seeds should then be planted in a well prepared seed bed in late April or early May.
They are used extensively as an ornamental, even though the wood is heavy, hard, and close grained. Because of it's small size and irregular shape of the tree however, it is of no commercial value as a source of lumber.
If the beauty of the tree does not convince you to grow one, there have been other documented uses. Bark of the Redbud has been used as an astringent in the treatment of dysentery. Flowers of the tree can be put into salads or fried and eaten. Cardinals have been observed feeding on the seeds, and seeds have been consumed by ring-necked pheasants and rose-breasted grosbeaks. White tailed deer and gray squirrels have also been observed feeding on the seeds. Flowers of the tree are regarded as important in the production of honey by bees.
So, as you can see the Redbud is not only a pretty tree, it can be useful as well.
Why not make some room for one, so you can say that the Cercis (circus) is in town??!!
Happy growing!


  1. y 35 to41? degrees only i know mine have been under 32 for maybe 2 weeks probably 25-30 degrees did this harm them?

    1. The only way to know for sure is to plant the seeds and see if they germinate.