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Merlot Redbud Cercis canadensis 'Merlot'

Other Common Name(s):

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

Merlot redbud is a deciduous shrub or small tree in the Fabaceae (bean) family that got its common name from the color of its foliage, similar to the wine of the same name. 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. Developed by Dr. Dennis Werner in the Department of Horticulture Science at North Carolina State University in conjunction with JC Raulston Arboretum, 'Merlot' is a hybrid of the 'Texas White' and 'Forest Pansy' cultivars, which 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, and in 2002 the seedlings flowered.  

‘Merlot’ does best in full sun to partial shade and will grow in any type of soil if it is well drained. This variety grows 9 to 12 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide. It has a low canopy, typically 1 foot above the ground, is vase-shaped with age, dense, and has a semi-upright habit. Left on its own, it will form a 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 it tolerates heat and drought conditions..The smaller, rounded, glossy leaves assist it to hold water and reduce the rate of transpiration.

Birds, bees and, butterflies flock to the springtime flowers making this small tree an excellent specimen in a pollinator garden, or understory tree in a wooded landscape.  Plant it in small groups for a dramatic effect in a cottage garden or as a patio planting. 

More information on Cercis canadensis

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 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.

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Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#small tree#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#specimen#easy to grow#wildlife plant#nectar plant#showy leaves#fall interest#cottage garden#understory tree#street tree#specialized bees#cpp#showstopper#long lifespan#pollinator plant#wildflower garden#deciduous tree#small group plantings#compact habit#patio planting#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#patio tree#butterfly friendly#bee friendly#woodland garden#compact#low humidity tolerant#lawn planting
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#small tree#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#specimen#easy to grow#wildlife plant#nectar plant#showy leaves#fall interest#cottage garden#understory tree#street tree#specialized bees#cpp#showstopper#long lifespan#pollinator plant#wildflower garden#deciduous tree#small group plantings#compact habit#patio planting#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#patio tree#butterfly friendly#bee friendly#woodland garden#compact#low humidity tolerant#lawn planting
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cercis
    Species:
    canadensis
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America
    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.
    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:
    Patio
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Foundation Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Understory Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heat