Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

(all photos by Gary)

This is a tough time of year for me.  We are well into fall here in Pennsylvania, when things are dying back, cold weather and snow are on the way, and it rather depresses me.  Already I am thinking ahead half a year to when one of my favorite trees re-emerges in a big way.

One of our first plant acquisitions when we bought our home some years ago were several Eastern Redbuds, Cercis canadensis.  I "liberated" 3 or 4 of them as knee-high seedlings from a nearby abandoned quarry area and transplanted them into our yard, where they have thrived.

So my eldest are some 25+ years old, and I have an equal number of their offspring from their own natural seeding. The tree is a prolific seed producer, and the babies sprout and grow rather easily.

Why do I like the Eastern Redbud? In a word, it's the flowers. Well, actually it's 3 words: Lovely. Early. Flowers.

This tree produces small (1/4") but stunning pink-to-purple flowers closely upon its branches and even the trunk. Once a tree is fairly mature, say 5-8 years old, the trunk and branches are covered with these flowers, and they come early. This splash of color comes in early April, just before the dogwoods. Although spring flowers are up, this is a still a time in southern PA when the predominant colors are dull grays and browns.

According to Landscape America, "George Washington reported in his diary on many occasions about the beauty of the tree and spent many hours in his garden transplanting seedlings obtained from the nearby forest."

Gotta give it to the father of our country.  He sure knew his trees!

My Eastern Redbuds in full flower, April 2010:

Same shot in late October 2010:

Close up of the seed pods...after all, the biological point of all those flowers!

As I've posted before, in the spring, when I I return from a local run, turn that last corner, and see those trees, I just have to smile at that stunning natural beauty.


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