Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud). This small understory tree or large shrub is native to eastern North America. The Eastern Redbud grows to a height of 20 to 30 feet and a width of 25 to 35 feet. It is appropriate for USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8.
Flowers: Abundant pink flowers appear very early in the spring. The flowers are small and arranged close to the branches, creating a strikingly beautiful display when planted in a grouping. Some popular cultivars have brighter pink or white flowers.
Fall Foliage: The Eastern Redbuds’ attractive heart-shaped leaves turn yellow in the fall. Some cultivars have more impressive fall color than the straight species.
Ecological Value: The seed pods provide food for many species of bird and some species of small mammals. The flowers provide an early and important source of pollen and nectar for native bees, honeybees, moths, and butterflies.
Cultural Uses: This tree grows well in full sun to part shade. It is often used as an understory tree in a naturalized area, a specimen tree in the garden, or a street tree. Basketry and medicine are two of this tree’s other cultural uses.
Scientific Name: The genus name of this tree is derived from the Greek word kerkis, a hand weaving implement that is similarly shaped to the seed pods. The specific epithet references Canada, part of the tree’s native range.
Interesting Fact: It is the state tree of Oklahoma.
Location at Pittsburgh Botanic Garden: Numerous specimens are located along the path in the Allegheny Plateau Woodland. The Celebration Garden displays the cultivar “Appalachian Red.”