Cercis canadensis

Plant for the understory, for the fodder, for the purple beauty and the leaf hearts!

Hardy from Zones 4-8. 20-30 feet tall, 25-35 feet wide.

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The mountains here light up in spring with brilliant purple and pink blossoms. Redbud wakes up and lets everyone know about it, and we’re grateful for the colorful sign. Heart-shaped leaves soon follow the flowers on the twisting branches. Not only are the flowers beautiful, but they’re great for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds and they’re edible and nutritious! We like adding the pea-like flowers to salads. Southern Appalachian recipes call it the “spicewood tree” and use green twigs to season venison and possum. Some indigenous tribes ate them raw or boiled, and also roasted the seeds, which are also enjoyed by deer, cardinals, bobwhites, and other birds, even if it’s not their first choice. Native people boiled the bark for a tea to treat whooping cough while roots and inner bark served as medicine for fever, congestion, and vomiting.

Redbud likes woodland understories and edges. We find it growing along streambanks, which is where we’re planting it as a cut-and-carry fodder for livestock. Unlike most leguminous trees, Redbud doesn’t transform atmospheric nitrogen into the soil, but we can’t all do everything!

We propagate our Redbud from seeds we gather from shapely vigorous trees.