Eastern Redbud

Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensisIn Iowa the redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a small tree or large shrub with coarse foliage and a spreading, open crown.  It is found over most of the eastern half of the United States, and in Iowa it is found mostly in the eastern and southeastern section scattered through existing woodlands.  The Redbud is used widely as an ornamental because of the rose-pink flowers which appear early in the spring along the branches before the leaves appear.

Habitat: Grows in ravines, bottomland woods and wooded bluffs.

eastern redbud trees in bloom, covered in pink flowers
Eastern Redbud Trees - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

Hardiness: Zones 4 through 9

Growth Rate: Moderate

Mature Shape: Rounded

Height: 20-30 feet

Width: 25-35 feet

Site Requirements: Adaptable to a wide range of soils and moistures

Leaves: Alternate, simple, smooth, and not lobed

Flowering Dates: March - May

Seed Dispersal Dates: Late Summer - November

Seed Bearing Age: 5 years

Seed Bearing Frequency: Yearly

Seed Stratification: Place seed in boiling water for 1 minute than prechill for 2 months at 34°F to 40°F

The peculiarly large, broad and rounded leaves have a distinct heart shape with smooth margins.  They are glossy green and firm, turning in autumn to a bright, clear yellow. They are palmately veined. The twigs are dull red to red-brown, often grayish and not shiny. The bark is dark red-brown, roughened and breaking into rather fine, narrow ridges on older stems and trunks. The fruit is a pod similar to a pea pod, turning deep red-brown when ripe and containing  small, rounded, flattened bean like seeds.

eastern redbud twig
Eastern Redbud Twig - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

eastern redbud trunk showing bark
Eastern Redbud Bark - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

green eastern redbud fruit pods
Eastern Redbud Fruit - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

eastern redbud leaves
Eastern Redbud Leaves - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

eastern redbud flowers, examples of pink, pink and white, and white variations as well as small pink buds
Eastern Redbud Flowers - Photos by Paul Wray, Iowa State University