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Cercis canadensis var. canadensis

Common Name(s):
Eastern redbud, Redbud
'Ace of Hearts', 'Alba' - white flowers, 'Appalachian Red' - hot pink, 'Covey' - weeping, 'Flame' - double flowers, seedless, 'Floating Clouds' - variegated green/white foliage), 'Forest Pansy' - purple foliage, pink flowers), 'Greswan' - purple foliage, 'Hearts of Gold' - golden foliage, 'Ruby Falls' - weeping with purple foliage), 'Rising Sun' - golden foliage with orange overtones in new growth, 'Silver Cloud' - variegated green/white foliage, 'Tom Thumb' - miniature foliage, 'Whitewater' - weeping with variegated green and white foliage, 'Wither's Pink Charm' , 'Pinkbud'
Native Plants, Trees

Cercis canadensis var. canadensis or eastern redbud is a native to NC and possesses cordate green leaves that turn yellow to yellowish-orange in the fall. The flowers which emerge in early springs are edible, precocious (emerging before the foliage) and can be cauliflorous (borne directly on stems and trunk). It is usually found as an understory tree in mixed forests. It grows best in moist, well-drained soil in part shade to part sun. However, the eastern redbud has proven to be very adaptable to different soils, full sun, and dry areas. If grown in wet soils it is prone to root rot. Eastern redbud has a fairly fast growth rate and will reach a mature height and spread of 15 to 20 feet. 

This plant is a member of Fabaceae, the same family that peas belong to. Some parts of this plant are edible, for example, the flowers taste like peas and make an excellent addition to a spring salad. It is said that people in the Appalachian Mountains use young stems to season venison while cooking.  

The eastern redbud is most well known for its beautiful lavender flowers early in the spring. The heart-shaped leaves and zigzagging young stems give it a distinct appearance among trees. Some of the popular cultivars include a white flowering form known as var. alba, ‘Forest Pansy’ has purple leaves early in the spring with a darker hue to the flowers. Some cultivars possess leaves that are splotched with white or cream colored variegation patterns such as ‘Silver Cloud’ and 'Floating Cloud'. It is a great choice as a small tree for tight spaces.

Wildlife Value:  The flowers provide nectar for bees and once pollinated form leguminous pods, the seed can be consumed by birds. Leaf cutter bees use the leaves to line their nests. Members of the genus Cercis support the following specialized bee: Habropoda laboriosa.

Play Value:  A mature redbud tree makes a great climbing tree for children.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: This tree can suffer from damage caused by deer.  

Learn more about "Cercis chinensis" (Chinese Redbud).

Learn more about "Cercis occidentalis" (Western redbud)


Dirr, M.A., (1998), Manual of Woody Landscape Plants Fifth Edition, pgs 253-259.




15-30 ft.
Reddish-purple buds; rosy pink, pea-like flowers in clusters; cultivar 'Alba' with white flowers, 'Flame' with double flowers; early spring before leaves emerge; 2-3 in. brown seed pods borne in clusters.
Sun to partial shade; prefers moist, well-drained soil but will tolerate a range of soil types.
Medium to coarse
Dense; flat topped to rounded crown; often multi-stemmed; zig-zag horizontal branches. Weeping forms exist.
Sun to partial shade; moderate to rich, well-drained soil
Slender brown seed pods borne in clusters
The flowers are said to be edible.
15-25 ft.
Growth Rate:
Slow to moderate
3-5 in. alternate, simple, cordate leaf; yellow to yellowish orange fall color; cultivars include purple, golden and variegated foliage types.
purple, cpp, small tree, nectar, weeping, deciduous, tsc, bees, drought, shelter, play, gold, pollinator, specialized bees, wildlife, childrens garden, food, small space, play value

NCCES plant id: 459

Cercis canadensis Flower of C. canadensis
Photo by Dogtooth77, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' C. canadensis 'Forest Pansy'
Gardennig in a Minute, CC BY-NC-2.0
Cercis canadensis 'Ace of Hearts' Leaves of C. canadensis 'Ace of Hearts'
Steven Severinghaus, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Cercis canadensis f. alba Flowers of C. canadensis f. alba
Danny Barron, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Cercis canadensis Form
Lambique, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Cercis canadensis Fruits- dry, brown bean pods
Lambique, CC-BY-SA-3.0