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Cercis occidentalis

Common Name(s):
Arizona redbud, California redbud, Judus tree, Pata de vaca, Western red bud
Shrubs, Trees

Synonomus with Cercis orbiculata. A flowering ornamental small tree or large shrub with many branches in the Fabaceae family.  As the common name implies it is native to California and Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. In the wild, plants generally appear singlely but they can form groups or thickets in riparian areas. It has showy flowers that appear on bare stems in early spring. It works well planted at the back of a shrub border, as an understory tree in a woodland garden, or as a screen near a patio.  It is able to tolerate intermitant flooding (for 1-3 months) during the growing season.  Seeds require scarifciation to germinate as the seeds are adapted to prolonged periods of dryness and cold due to an impervious seed coat and a dormant embryo.

Seasons of Interest:

      Bloom: Spring, April-May

Wildlife Value: Nectar attracts pollinators such as butterflies, bumble bees, and orchard mason bees.  Provides nesting materials for specalized bees. The leguminous seed pods, are consumed by birds. Members of the genus Cercis support the following specialized bee: Habropoda laboriosa. 

Play Value: Wildlife enhancement 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Susceptible to caterpillars and scales. Crown rot, phytophthora and root rot can also be a problem. It is resistant to Armillaria. This tree can suffer from damage caused by deer.  



10-18 ft.
Leaves round, blue-green, gray-green or medium green.
Pink to magenta flowers in early spring; reddish-brown seed pods
Sun to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil; drought tolerant
Variable form; multi-stemmed
10-15 ft.
Growth Rate:
1-3 in. green leaves; light yellow to yellowish orange fall color
play, flooding, playground, small tree, nesting, deciduous, wet sites, bees, drought tolerant, birds, nectar, pollinator, specialized bees, screen, hardscape, patio, children’s garden, wet

NCCES plant id: 1949

Cercis occidentalis Leaves and Flowers of C. occidentalis
Alan English CPA, CC BY-NC-2.0
Cercis occidentalis Observed at the Horticultural Field Lab, NCSU. Raleigh, NC.
David Roberts , CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Cercis occidentalis Native habitat
Stan Shebs, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Cercis occidentalis Flowers close up
JKehoe_Photos, CC BY - 2.0