and Deciduous Forest Trees
of Southern Ontario

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.

St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre, Norfolk County

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.

Red Bud is a small understorey tree that prefers well drained, moist soil.

Landscape Use:
This small tree is frequently planted as an ornamental because of its heart shaped leaves, rounded form and beautiful pinkish-purple flowers.

Leaves: The leaves are simple with smooth edges. They are large and heart-shaped. 


Size: This is a small tree, usually 10 metres or less. Trees live to an average age of 80 years.

A pretty sight, Red Bud and Eastern Flowering Dogwood, both in bloom. St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre, Norfolk County

Bark: The bark is reddish-brown and scaly with ridges. A yellow dye can be made by boiling twigs in water.

New growth from a fallen trunk. St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre, Norfolk County

Monoecious with perfect flowers. The flowers are very showy, appearing in May.

Close-up of the two tone flowers 

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.

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

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

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.

Autumn colour