Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis L.) Greensboro NC About this picture: well, it was early Spring here in NC, and many flowers were opening up, and I decided after two years I would start to learn how to use my new fangled camera, so I went outside and started trying to capture some shots. The Redbud in our front yard was in full bloom, and the big bumble bees were everywhere. The aroma was amazing. I wish I could capture that - maybe that's the next invention! I tried to focus in on one clump of bud/flowers - but I am still learning the camera settings and haven't got the DOF figured out! (How I miss the manual SLR!). At least I can still focus! This particular red bud took a direct lightning hit last summer. It took half the tree down, but the other half lived!
About Redbuds in general
Drive down any interstate highway in the piedmont of North Carolina in early March, and you will see splashes of light purple here and there along the tree line, giving the heart a sense of added hope that Spring is coming. This dash of purple is from one of our more humble native trees, the red bud. Why it’s not called the purple bud is a mystery. Not even the bud itself is red, but some see the color as reddish purple, and perhaps growing in different soils it looks more red than purple.
But around here both bud and flower are light purple, or at best purplish pink. The red bud is actually a member of the bean family. As early spring flower turns to fruit, and as the summer progresses, thick dark bean pods about 3 inches long hang heavily from the red bud limbs, and providing another source of food for a few birds such as bobwhites and cardinals, and some mammals such as deer and squirrels, though the red bud fruit is generally not a food favorite. Bees however love the nectar of the flowers. The bean pods persist often well into winter hanging and rattling in the winter wind well after the leaves have fallen.
In our early forests, red buds, along with dogwoods and ironwoods and sourwoods, would have found their place under the great canopy trees of oak and chestnut and hickory and tulip poplar, taking what sun they could get, and offering another level of habitat for animals and visual beauty for human visitors.
The red bud makes for an excellent garden tree. It’s leaf is sort of a rounded heart shape, about as wide as tall, three to five inches across. The tree tends toward a bushy appearance with multiple branches, though it can be pruned to one or two primary trunks. It’s a bit of a gangly tree, no two looking just alike, thus lending character to the suburban yard. It grows fairly slowly and reaches a maximum height of 20-30 feet at most. In the fall the large red bud leaves turn yellow and tend to fall from the tree all at once, making for easy care.