Red Bud
Cercis canadensis

Location in Ontario

Red Bud is a Carolinian Tree that is frequently planted and has naturalized. It is probable that it occurred naturally at one time on Pelee Island in Canada. It is a small understorey tree that prefers well drained, moist soil.


Red Bud in full bloom

Genus Cercis
Trees in this genus are small trees or shrubs, and are often planted as ornamentals. Leaves are simple and heart-shaped. The trees are monoecious, with perfect flowers that are two-toned; combinations of purple, pink or red in colour and occur in clusters. The fruit is a type of legume. In Ontario, Redbud is the only species that occurs.

In the Landscape
Red Bud is a small tree, usually 10 metres or less. Trees live to an average age of 80 years. It is frequently planted as an ornamental because of its heart shaped leaves, rounded form and beautiful pinkish-purple flowers.


A pretty sight, Red Bud and Eastern Flowering Dogwood, both in bloom.

Leaves
The leaves are simple with smooth edges. They are large and heart-shaped. Leaves turn yellow in the fall.
Bark
The bark is reddish-brown and scaly with ridges. A yellow dye can be made by boiling twigs in water.
Flowers
Red Bud is monoecious with perfect flowers. The flowers are very showy, appearing in May before the leaves. Pollination is mainly by bees.
Fruit
Seeds are found in flat reddish-brown pods, which are a type of legume. The pods hang in clusters on the tree into the winter. Fruit is produced after 5 years of growth, with good seed crops every other year. Seed pods hang on the tree over winter.
Wood
The wood is hard and heavy, but weak.
Specific gravity: 0.52
Janka Hardness: not available
Wood Comparison Chart

Due to the small size of the tree, the wood is not used commercially.

TREE FACT: Although the flowers appear to be a purplish colour from a distance, they are in fact two colours. The petals are light pink and the sepals are dark pink.


Close-up of the two tone flowers 

Here is an excellent video showing the leaves, flowers and fruit of the Redbud.

TREE FACT: Native people ate the Red Bud flowers, either boiled or raw, as well as roasted seeds.


Link to United States Forest Service Silvics Manual for Red Bud.

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