Plant DetailShow Menu

Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensis 'Merlot'

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
SER-sis kan-ah-DEN-sis
Description

The Merlot Redbud got its common name from the color of its foliage, similar to the wine of the same name.  Developed by Dr. Dennis Werner in the Department of Horticulture Science at North Carolina State University in conjunction with JC Ralston Arboretum, 'Merlot' is a hybrid of 'Texas White' Texas Redbud and 'Forest Pansy'.  The varieties grew adjacent to each other in the landscape at NCSU.  This breeding was an attempt to develop a purple leafed form of redbud with smaller glossy leaves and a semi-upright growth habit.  Seed was collected in 1998.  In 2002 the seedlings flowered.  

This variety has a low canopy, typically 1' above the ground, is vase-shaped with age, dense and has a semi-upright habit.  Left on its own, it will form as multi-trunked specimen.  Selective pruning when young will allow for a more tree like form and will also help to develop a strong branch structure.

It differs from other cultivars of the genus in that the heat and drought conditions of hot climate locations do not take a toll on this plant.  The smaller, rounded, glossy leaves assist it to hold water and reduce the rate of transpiration.

The genus name Cercis comes from the Greek word kerkis which means weaver's shuttle, referring to the fact that the seed pod resembles the size and shape of a weaver's shuttle used to move thread back and forth on a loom.

More information on Cercis canadensis

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

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Although generally pest free, canker, dieback, mildew, blights, and verticillium wilt can occur.  This tree can suffer from damage caused by deer.  The thin bark can be damaged by mowers and/or trimmers.  

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

More information on Cercis canadensis.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#easy to grow#wildlife plants#nectar plant#showy leaves#fall interest#specialized bees#cpp#showstopper#long lifespan#pollinator plant#wildflower garden#deciduous tree#compact habit#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#bee friendly#compact#low humidity tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#easy to grow#wildlife plants#nectar plant#showy leaves#fall interest#specialized bees#cpp#showstopper#long lifespan#pollinator plant#wildflower garden#deciduous tree#compact habit#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#bee friendly#compact#low humidity tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cercis
    Species:
    canadensis
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds, bees and butterflies flock to the springtime flowers.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Easy to Grow
    Screening
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 9 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Dense
    Erect
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Description:
    This variety of the genus has significantly fewer fruits than other varieties, making maintenance minimal.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Prior to the tree leafing out, clusters of bright rosie/pink flowers emerge on the bare branches in the springtime. They can be present for 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The red leaf buds begin to open from within the flowers. The large, dark burgundy leaves will not fade through the summer months. The leaves range from 4-6" long and 2-4" wide. The leaves emerge deep purple, progress to burgundy then turn green in summer.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Features a multi-stemmed deciduous tree.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Lawn
    Patio
    Pond
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Foundation Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Understory Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heat