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Native Spotlight: Eastern Redbud

Tree Facts

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a small tree or large deciduous shrub, native to much of the continental United States. Redbuds are well known for their vibrant pink colored blooms, bean shaped seed pods, and broad heart shaped leaves. Redbuds can grow into a shrub or tree form based on the conditions of the site. If sunlight is low they will sometimes grow taller to outcompete other species, and can reach heights up to 30 feet. Redbuds are one of a few trees that can grow buds on the bark of the trunk and limbs. Often mistaken for a sign of injury and disease, it is actually a rare trait of some trees that grow in temperate climates. Small mammals that climb up the bark can actually pollinate flowers that they may rub against on their way up. The other flowers on the plant can only be pollinated by long tongued bees, such as carpenter or mason bees. Redbuds are a great tree to plant in landscaping, due to their small size, hardiness, and acclimation to various soil types. They are considered thicket or edge plants, often growing where hardwood forest meets open fields. The edge is considered the most diverse biome of all forest ecosystems with approximately 65% of all animals living in this area.

A Redbud in West Chester Township

Interesting Uses

Native Americans boiled the bark to make tea for the treatment of whooping cough. Dysentery could be treated by using an astringent from the bark. The roots and inner bark were utilized for fevers, congestion, and even vomiting. In Appalachia, they refer to them as "spice tree" and use the twigs and flowers in tea and fry the flowers to eat. Redbud wood is used in different woodworking applications like gunstocks, decorative bowls, knife handles, and veneer.

Vibrant red colored flowers cover the tree for 2-3 weeks each Spring

It is not clear why some trees produce flowers on the trunk and limbs while others do not


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