The eastern redbud (Cerciscanadensis), when in flower, is one of the most colorful of all North American trees. Even without its trademark flowers, the tree has enough attractive assets to make it worthy of your landscape. This very desirable ornamental species comes in several cultivars for landowners. The eastern redbud hails from the Pea family and is native to both the United States and parts of Mexico.
Multiple trunks are a common feature on many eastern redbuds. The species ranges from 20 to 40 feet tall, with a spreading crown as wide as 30 feet. The eastern redbud has heart-shaped leaves from 3 to 5 inches wide with smooth edges. The leaves will first come out as a brighter shade of green mixed with red but then become a dark green. In the fall, redbud leaves change to a combination of green and yellow.
The flowers bloom on the redbud during the latter part of April and the beginning of May. They resemble those of the pea plant and emerge in clusters of from four to eight blossoms. Redbud flowers are a purple-pink mix and come out well before the leaves on the tree do. What makes these flowers so outstanding is that they typically grow along the entire branch, not just on the very ends, giving the tree an incredible visual appeal.
The flowers give way to another interesting aspect of the eastern redbud tree --- its fruit. The flowers gradually develop into flattened pods as long as 3 to 4 inches. The pods start as green but then turn brown as the summer progresses. The Floridata website states the pods can be difficult to see through the green leaves on a redbud, but after the leaves come off in the fall, the pods are often still on the branches. Some will last deep into the winter before finally falling off the tree.
The pH level of the soil is usually a non-factor regarding the eastern redbud. The tree does well in most soils as long as they drain well and are not continually too damp. Full sun or partial shade is fine for this species, with a good strategic placement of a redbud being one that gives it sun late in the winter months and some shade in the summer heat.
The color of the redbud flowers in cultivars called Alba and Royal White is white rather than red. Burgundy-colored leaves are the feature of the Forest Pansy hybrid. For pink blooms, choose from the Withers Pink Charm, Pinkbud or Rubye Atkinson cultivars. Thick leaves and deep red flowers highlight the Oklahoma variety.