Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Height: 20 to 30 feet, but often a shrub

Evergreen/Deciduous: Deciduous  

Lifespan: Short-lived; 50 years or so  

Fall Foliage: Variable, but occasionally an attractive orange or purple  

Range: Most of the southeastern United States, even stretching across the Mississippi River and into parts of Mexico   

Typical Habitat: Fairly adaptable species, which can be found anywhere the soil is neither excessively dry nor damp; will not tolerate extreme shade or sun exposure

The Eastern Redbud: An Understory Gem   

The eastern redbud is a relatively small tree with big appeal – to humans and wildlife alike.

People tend to love the tree for a variety of obvious reasons, and it is planted widely as an ornamental. It provides some form of visual interest (either via the flowers, leaves, or seed pods, depending on the time of year), and it is also a relatively easy and adaptable species that often thrives in backyards and commercial lots.

But the tree is also popular with a variety of wildlife. Deer are one of the few outliers here, as they don’t feed especially heavily on the tree’s leaves, but a number of invertebrates visit the flowers and consume the leaves, while the seeds are popular with a number of bird species, ranging from cardinals to upland game birds.

Eastern Redbud Identification: Tips & Tricks

The eastern redbud often provides easy identification characteristics throughout the year. In the growing seasons, it’s heart-shaped leaves will generally make for a quick ID, while the retained seed pods will make it easy to spot in the late fall or winter.

But it is the springtime when this tree truly shines. A relatively early bloomer, the eastern redbud becomes covered in small, pink to purple blossoms for a week or so.  

The Eastern Redbud: Additional Information

Curious about the eastern redbud and want to know more? Check out these resources – they’ll make an excellent starting point:

  • U.S. Forest Service: A comprehensive (if a bit dry) guide to the eastern redbud tree, including everything from ecology to its response to fire.
  • Florida IFAS Extension: A general overview of the species, including planting information and a number of high-quality photographs.
  • North Carolina State Extension: A general guide to the species, along with a huge photo gallery.

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