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Cercis canadensis 'NCCC1' PPAF

Common Name(s):
Carolina Sweetheart™ Redbud, Eastern redbud, Judas tree
Native Plants, Trees

Cercis canadensis, commonly called eastern redbud, is a deciduous, often multi-trunked understory tree with a rounded crown that typically matures to 20-30’ tall with a slightly larger spread. It is particularly noted for its stunning pea-like rose-purple flowers which bloom profusely on bare branches in early spring (March-April) before the foliage emerges. This tree is native to eastern and central North America from Connecticut to New York to southern Ontario and the Great Lakes south to Western Texas and Florida.

There is nothing else on the planet like Carolina SweetheartTM. A carnival of color in early summer as new leaves emerge. It starts out with pink flowers in the spring. Then the new leaves emerge purple, but over time, gain various shades of white, green, and hot pink. It makes coleus look drab in comparison. Eventually, the leaves turn green in the summer.  It was developed as a collaborative project by NC State University and Star Roses and Plants Nursery.

Redbuds, along with Dogwoods, grow on woodland edges and bring a welcome vibrancy of color in very early spring before other trees have even leafed out. C. canadensis is the state tree of Oklahoma.

Ethnobotany:  Native American tribes made the bark into a medicinal tea and took cold infusions of the roots & inner bark to treat fever and congestion. In the winter, it was valuable firewood. Because it is one of the first plants to flower, the flowering branches were brought into homes to “drive the winter out”.  People in the Appalachian Mountains used young stems to season venison. Children were fond of eating the flowers, which taste pea-like.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont

Seasons of Interest:

       Foliage: Early spring, purple   Blooms: Early spring, Spring   Fruits: Late summer, Fall

Wildlife Value:  The blossoms provide nectar for honey bees, butterflies, and other insects. Once pollinated, leguminous pods form with seeds that are eaten by many birds, including bobwhite quail. It is a host plant for the Henry Elfin's butterfly. Members of the genus Cercis support the following specialized bee: Habropoda laboriosa.

Insects, Diseases and Other Problems: Insect pests include Japanese beetles, tree hoppers, leaf hoppers, caterpillars, borers, webworms and scale. Canker can be a significant disease problem. Verticillium wilt, dieback, leaf spots, mildew and blights may also occur. Keeping the tree vigorous by regular watering and fertilization and by pruning out dead branches as needed will help keep the tree healthy. Whitetail deer browse the foliage and can damage the tree by eating the bark.

The Eastern redbud is most well known for its stunning pea-like rose-lavender flowers, which bloom profusely in very early spring, on bare branches. Flowers (to ½” wide) are borne in clusters of 4-10, primarily on older branches. Flowers are followed in summer by 2-3 inch flattened, leguminous, bean-like, brown pods in clusters, each pod containing 6 – 12 seeds.
The Eastern redbud is easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Part shade is best in hot summer climates. It performs best in moderately fertile soils with regular and consistent moisture. Avoid wet or poorly drained soils. Since this tree does not transplant well, it should be planted when young and left undisturbed.
Medium to coarse
Flat topped rounded crown, multi-trunked
Full sun to partial shade
Brown bean-like pods
Growth Rate:
Slow to moderate
Alternate, simple, cordate leaves, broadly ovate to nearly circular with a long, slender petiole. In the Carolina SweetheartTM, the leaves are a riot of color, starting out purple, but changing to shades of white, green and hot pink, and eventually turning green in summer,
flowering tree, purple, cpp, showy leaves, understory, nectar, deciduous, and fall color, street tree, bees, k, native, birds, early spring, pollinator, specialized bees, honey bees, wildlife, woodland, winter interest

NCCES plant id: 3109

Carolina Sweetheart™ Redbud Leaves come in many colors.
Star Roses and Plants Nursery
Carolina Sweetheart™ Redbud Carolina Sweetheart™ Redbud
Star Roses and Plants Nursery
Carolina Sweetheart™ Redbud Flowers
Carolina Sweetheart™ Redbud Close up of leaf