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Cercis canadensis var. mexicana

Common Name(s):

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

Sometimes listed as C. mexicana or C. canadensis ssp. mexicana.

The Mexican Redbud can be found growing in its native habitat in the limestone soils around the shaded canyons and slopes from southwest Texas into northern Mexico.  The name redbud come from its inner bark that bears a reddish color.

There has been much debate over the distinction between Cercis canadensis var. mexicana and Cercis canadensis var. texensis. Morphologically, the two varieties are very similar and are often distinguished from one another based on geographic distribution. More often than not, the leaf blade of C. canadensis var. mexicana exhibits an undulate margin whereas the leaf blade of Cercis canadensis var. texensis is typically flat. However, the geographic overlap of these characteristics make the taxonomic separation of these two varieties difficult to verify, as described by Fritsch et al. (2009).  

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.

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:  Leaf cutter bees can damage the foliage.  Root rot and stem rot can appear on trees grown in moist or poorly drained soils.  This tree can suffer from damage caused by deer.  The falling seedpods can create a litter problem.

References:

Fritsch, P. W., Larson, K. W., & Schiller, A. M. 2009. Taxonomic implications of morphological variation in Cercis canadensis (Fabaceae) from Mexico and adjacent parts of Texas. Systematic Botany. 34: 510 – 520. 

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#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native tree#nectar plant#fall interest#flowering tree#specialized bees#cpp#showstopper#pollinator plant#edible garden#deciduous tree#compact habit#bee friendly#compact#wet soils intolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native tree#nectar plant#fall interest#flowering tree#specialized bees#cpp#showstopper#pollinator plant#edible garden#deciduous tree#compact habit#bee friendly#compact#wet soils intolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cercis
    Species:
    canadensis
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South West Texas to North Eastern Mexico
    Distribution:
    TX
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Larval host to Henry's Elfin butterfly. Attractive to native bees and bumble bees.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Screening
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Dimensions:
    Height: 11 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 11 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • 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
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    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 Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a legume that appears green and turns to brown as it ages.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Red, pea-like flowers in clusters in early spring.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Reniform
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    2-6 in. alternate, simple, dark silvery/green, leathery leaves with undulating margins; develops glossy appearance with age. Thicker cuticle allows for greater drought tolerance than C. canadensis.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The stems are thicker and more rigid than species. Grows in a multi-stemmed form.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Border
    Flowering Tree
    Foundation Planting
    Small groups
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Understory Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Heat
    Poor Soil