Cercis canadensis

Eastern Redbud




  • native to the southeastern and central United States, from New Jersey south
  • hardy to zone 5 and protected, warm parts of 4
  • proper choice of genetic material is necessary for success in zone 5 and colder

Habit and Form

  • a small, deciduous tree
  • 20' to 30' tall
  • 25' to 35' wide
  • shape is rounded to broad and flat-topped
  • branching is upright and spreading to irregular
  • main trunk is short, dividing into several large branches close to the ground

Summer Foliage

  • alternately-arranged, simple leaves
  • wide, heart-shaped leaves
  • leaves are 3" to 5" long and wide
  • leaves emerge bright green tinged red and mature to a dark green
  • stems have a zigzag growth pattern

Autumn Foliage

  • color is yellow-green
  • can be a showy, bright yellow on some plants in some years


  • very showy
  • small, purplish-pink pea-like flowers
  • numerous and appearing before the foliage
  • bloom time is late April to early may
  • in clusters of 4 to 8
  • often are borne directly on old branches and trunks as well as younger branches
  • trees bloom heavily at a young age


  • flattened legume pods
  • 2" to 3" long
  • changes from green to dark brown in October
  • often numerous and persistent
  • possibly a detraction


  • bark on stems is glabrous and reddish-brown to dark brown
  • older branches have a scaly dark brown bark that exfoliates some to reveal orangish inner bark
  • somewhat ornamentally appealing, especially when coupled with the branching habit


  • full sun to light shade
  • likes a moist, well-drained, soil, but is adaptable to most soils that are not permanently wet
  • avoid very dry and hot locations
  • transplant young trees for best success

Landscape Use

  • lawn tree
  • specimen
  • for small residences
  • for showy spring flowering
  • naturalized or woodland plantings
  • works well in small groupings or groves
  • patio tree


  • lack of cold hardiness if proper genetic material isn't used
  • twig kill and dieback in zones 5 and 4
  • wood can be brittle with trees splitting at crotches
  • persistent fruits can be objectionable
  • canker
  • tends to be short-lived, especially when exposed to chronic stresses

ID Features

  • zigzag stem growth
  • heart-shaped leaves
  • numerous rosy-pink pea-like flowers
  • short main trunk
  • scaly dark brown bark with orange inner bark
  • broad rounded to flat-topped shape when mature
  • persistent legume pod fruits
  • flower buds stalked and in clusters


  • by seed
  • cultivars are bud grafted or micropropagated


'Alba' and 'Royal White' - Two forms with white flowers and foliage that lacks any purplish pigmentation as it emerges. Otherwise similar to the species in size and habit.

'Covey' (Lavender Twist™) - A weeping form that has stiff, contorted, arching branches.

'Forest Pansy' - A very showy cultivar where the foliage emerges a vivid burgundy color. As the foliage matures the underside of the leaves remains purple-red and the upperside turns dark green. Flowers are more purple than the species. This cultivar may not be reliably hardy below -10 to -15oF, although hardiness information is somewhat conflicting.

'Pinkbud', 'Withers Pink Charm' and 'Rubye Atkinson' - Forms that are similar to the species except that the flowers are clear pink. This flower color may be easier to combine with other colors in the landscape.

'Silver Cloud' - Has variegated foliage that is irregularly blotched and splashed with white. Green reversions occur and must be removed. Benefits from shading and a cool location. Does not flower heavily. A specimen or curiosity plant.

ssp. texensis 'Oklahoma' - Flowers are a deep wine-red. Leaves are thick, leathery, lustrous and have a wavy margin. Habit is more dense and compact than the species. Not reliably hardy in areas colder than zone 6.

ssp. texensis 'Traveller' - A weeping form that forms a mound only 5' tall and wider. Probably not hardy in areas north of zone 6.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

The digital materials (images and text) available from the UConn Plant Database are protected by copyright. Public use via the Internet for non-profit and educational purposes is permitted. Use of the materials for profit is prohibited.

Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database, http://hort.uconn.edu/plants, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.