pink flowers on Eastern redbud tree

Flowers of Eastern redbud, a small tree native to Maryland. Photo: M. Talabac

Updated: July 12, 2022

About Eastern redbud

Cercis canadensis
Deciduous tree

Maryland Distribution: Maryland Piedmont, Mountain, and Coastal Plain
Height: 20’ to 35’
Flowers: Light pink to lavender, rarely white; showy, blooms April-May, self-pollinating and insect-pollinated
Fall color: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to partial shade; forest edge and understory tree
Soil: Loam-sand-clay, high organic matter; pH 4.5-7.5+

Garden Uses:  Eastern redbud is native to the eastern and south-central United States and all regions of Maryland, except for a few counties nearest our Atlantic coastline. Its natural habitat includes forest edges, woodlands, and stream banks. It prefers well-drained, moist-to-occasionally dry soil. It does not tolerate wet, poorly aerated, or coarsely sandy soil conditions. 

Showy pink flowers open in late spring before the leaves emerge. The heart-shaped leaves turn yellow in the fall. Pea-like seed pods are brown-black and may remain on the tree during the winter. Self-sows. Susceptible to Verticillium wilt, Botryosphaeria canker, and leaf anthracnose.

Use as a small specimen tree in a yard, woodland, or pollinator garden. This tends to be a short-lived tree (20-30 years). Plant trees in succession for replacement.

Wildlife: Many bees are supported by the nectar and pollen provided by the flowers of Eastern redbud. Some butterflies will feed on the nectar as well. This is a host plant for several species of moths, including the Io Moth and the White-Marked Tussock Moth. Some songbirds, such as Northern Cardinals, eat the seeds.

small redbud tree in bloom
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis). Photo: M. Talabac
small redbud tree next to a building
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis). Photo: M. Talabac

References

Eastern Redbud. Southern Research Station, Forest Service, USDA. 

Slattery, Britt E., et. al. 2005. Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Chesapeake Bay Field Office, Annapolis, MD. 82 pp.

Compiled by: Christa Carignan, Horticulturist & Coordinator, Home & Garden Information Center. 2022

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