Environment Planet Earth How to Manage and ID Eastern Redbud Trees By Steve Nix Writer University of Georgia Steve Nix is a member of the Society of American Foresters and a former forest resources analyst for the state of Alabama. our editorial process Steve Nix Updated February 04, 2021 Linda Hartong / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Planet Earth Outdoors Weather Conservation The state tree of Oklahoma, Eastern Redbud is a moderate to rapid-grower when young, reaching a height of 20 to 30 feet. Thirty-year-old specimens are rare but they can reach 35 feet in height, forming a rounded vase. Trees of this size are often found on moist sites. The splendid purple-pink flowers appear all over the tree in spring, just before the leaves emerge. Eastern Redbud has an irregular growth habit when young but forms a graceful flat-topped vase-shape as it gets older. Specifics Scientific name: Cercis canadensis Pronunciation: SER-sis kan-uh-DEN-sis Common name(s): Eastern Redbud Family: Leguminosae USDA hardiness zones: 4B through 9A Origin: native to North America Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range Popular Cultivars Several cultivars of eastern redbud may be seen: forma alba - white flowers, blooms about a week later; ‘Pink Charm’ - flowers pink; ‘Pinkbud’ - flowers pink; ‘Purple Leaf’ - young foliage purple; ‘Silver Cloud’ - leaves variegated with white; ‘Flame’ - more erect branching, flowers double, blooms later, sterile so no seed pods form. ‘Forest Pansy’ is a particularly attractive cultivar with purple-red leaves in the spring, but the color fades to green in the summer in the south. Management Considerations Be sure to avoid weak forks by pruning to reduce the size of lateral branches and save those which form a ‘U’-shaped crotch, not a ‘V’. Keep them less than half the diameter of the main trunk to increase the longevity of the tree. Do not allow multiple trunks to grow with tight crotches. Instead, space branches about 6 to 10 inches apart along the main trunk. Eastern redbud is best not used extensively as a street tree due to low disease resistance and short life. Description Height: 20 to 30 feet Spread: 15 to 25 feet Crown uniformity: irregular outline or silhouette Crown shape: round; vase shape Crown density: moderate Growth rate: fast Texture: coarse Trunk and Branches The bark is thin and easily damaged from mechanical impact; droop as the tree grows, and will require pruning for vehicular or pedestrian clearance beneath the canopy. Routinely grown with, or trainable to be grown with, multiple trunks; not particularly showy. The tree wants to grow with several trunks but can be trained to grow with a single trunk; no thorns. Foliage Leaf arrangement: alternate Leaf type: simple Leaf margin: entire Leaf shape: orbiculate; ovate Leaf venation: banchidodrome; pinnate; palmate; reticulate Leaf type and persistence: deciduous Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches; 2 to 4 inches Leaf color: green Fall color: yellow Fall characteristic: showy Flowers and Fruit Flower color: lavender; pink; purple Flower characteristics: spring-flowering; very showy Fruit shape: pod Fruit length: 1 to 3 inches Fruit covering: dry or hard Fruit color: brown Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; no significant litter problem; persistent on the tree; showy Culture Light requirement: tree grows in part shade/part sun; tree grows in full sun Soil tolerances: clay; loam; sand; acidic; occasionally wet; alkaline; well-drained Drought tolerance: high Aerosol salt tolerance: none Soil salt tolerance: poor Redbuds In-Depth Eastern Redbuds grow well in full sun in the northern part of its range but will benefit from some shade in the southern zones, particularly in the lower Midwest where summers are hot. Best growth occurs in a light, rich, moist soil but eastern redbud adapts well to a variety of soil including sandy or alkaline. Trees look better when they receive some irrigation in summer dry spells. Its native habitat ranges from stream bank to dry ridge, demonstrating its adaptability. Trees are sold as single or multi-stemmed. Young trees are easiest to transplant and survive best when planted in the spring or fall. Containerized trees can be planted anytime. The beans provide food for some birds. Trees are short-lived but provide a wonderful show in the spring and fall. Cercis are best propagated by seed. Use ripe seed to plant directly, or, if the seed has been stored, stratification is necessary before sowing in a greenhouse. Cultivars can be propagated by grafting onto seedlings, or by summer cuttings under mist or in a greenhouse.