Eastern Redbud

Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
Deciduous small tree
The Eastern Redbud tree, also known as Cercis canadensis, is a small, deciduous tree that can be found in eastern North America. It is commonly found in wooded areas, along streams, and in parks and gardens. The tree grows to be 20-30 feet tall and has a rounded, spreading canopy that provides dappled shade. Its bark is dark brown and slightly rough, and its heart-shaped leaves are bright green in the spring and summer, turning yellow in the fall. One of the Eastern Redbud's most striking features is its pink to purple flowers, which appear in early spring before the leaves. These small, pea-like flowers bloom in clusters along the branches, making the tree look as though it is covered in pink or purple mist. After the flowers fade, the tree produces flat, brown seed pods that persist into the winter. The Eastern Redbud's wood is hard and dense, making it useful for woodworking projects. The tree is relatively low maintenance and can tolerate a wide range of soil types, as long as they are well-draining. It is also resistant to pests and diseases. Overall, the Eastern Redbud is a beautiful and versatile tree that adds color and interest to any landscape.
Manas Sharma, Shreya Nuli, Jacki Moses
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Open form
Date of tree entry: 
7.50 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.14 m

The bark of the Eastern Redbud tree is generally dark brown and slightly rough to the touch. The texture of the bark is somewhat scaly and may appear somewhat "peeled" or flaky in some areas. As the tree ages, the bark may become more deeply furrowed and ridged. When young, the bark of the Eastern Redbud may be relatively smooth and thin, and have a somewhat mottled appearance with lighter patches interspersed with darker areas. As the tree matures, the bark becomes thicker and more textured. In general, the bark of the Eastern Redbud tree is not a particularly distinctive feature and may not be as visually striking as some other species of trees. However, it can be a useful identification feature when combined with other characteristics such as the tree's leaves, flowers, and overall growth habit. Despite its relatively unremarkable appearance, the bark of the Eastern Redbud does play an important role in protecting the tree's underlying tissues from damage and disease. The outermost layer of the bark, known as the cork layer, helps to prevent water loss and insulate the tree from extreme temperatures.
Twigs & branches
The twigs and branches of the Eastern Redbud tree are typically slender and smooth, with a reddish-brown coloration. They may also have a slight zigzag or irregular shape, adding to the tree's overall aesthetic appeal. The bark of the twigs and branches is typically smooth, with prominent lenticels that allow for gas exchange. As the tree ages, the branches may develop a more gnarled and twisted appearance, adding to the tree's character. The Eastern Redbud is known for its graceful, spreading growth habit, with branches that arch outwards and upwards from the trunk. The branches of the Eastern Redbud may also have distinctive markings left behind by the leaf scars, which are small raised bumps that form where the leaves were attached. These scars can be used to identify the tree during the winter months when the leaves have fallen. In addition to their aesthetic qualities, the branches and twigs of the Eastern Redbud play an important role in supporting the tree's growth and providing a framework for its leaves, flowers, and fruit. They also serve as important habitat and food sources for a variety of wildlife, including birds and insects.
The Eastern Redbud tree has a distinctive, heart-shaped cordate leaf that is bright green in the spring and summer, turning yellow in the fall. The leaf is typically 3-5 inches long and wide, with a pointed tip and a smooth, slightly wavy edge. The foliage also has mucronate apices. The leaf is simple and arranged alternately along the branches, and there may be several leaves clustered together at the ends of the twigs. The leaves are attached to the twigs by short petioles that are also reddish-brown in color. In addition to its shape and color, the Eastern Redbud leaf is notable for its delicate texture and translucency. When backlit by the sun, the leaves appear almost translucent, adding to the tree's overall visual appeal.
Reproductive Structures
The Eastern Redbud tree produces small, pea-like flowers that are pink to purple in color and appear in clusters along the branches in early spring, before the leaves emerge. These flowers are bisexual and contain both male and female reproductive structures. The male reproductive structures, called stamens, produce pollen that is spread by the wind or by insects. The female reproductive structures, called pistils, contain the ovules that are fertilized by the pollen and develop into the tree's fruit. After the flowers fade, the tree produces flattened, brown seed pods that persist into the winter. These pods are 2-4 inches long and contain several flat, brown seeds that are 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. The Eastern Redbud tree is capable of self-pollination, but is more commonly pollinated by bees and other insects. The tree's fruit is an important food source for a variety of wildlife, including birds and small mammals.
The fruit of the Eastern Redbud tree is a flat, brown seed pod that is 2-4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. The pod contains several small, brown seeds that are 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. The seed pods develop from the tree's flowers, which bloom in early spring before the leaves emerge. After the flowers fade, the pods begin to form and mature over the summer months. The fruit of the Eastern Redbud tree is an important food source for a variety of wildlife, including birds and small mammals. The pods can remain on the tree well into the winter, providing a valuable source of nutrition during the colder months.
  • Eastern Redbud in the Summer
  • Eastern Redbud in the Spring
  • Eastern Redbud in the Fall
  • Eastern Redbud in the Winter
The range of eastern redbud extends from New Jersey and Pennsylvania west to southern Michigan and southeastern Nebraska; south to eastern Texas; and east to central Florida. Its natural range appears to exclude the Gulf and Atlantic Coastal Plains. They grow on a variety of soils with full to partial shade.
Origin, history, and uses: 

The Eastern Redbud has historically been considered beautiful with purple flowers and is known as the Judas tree because that was the tree that Judas hung himself on after he betrayed Jesus. The roots and inner bark were utilized for fevers, congestion, and even vomiting. In Appalachia, they refer to them as “spice trees” 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 veneers. 


The Eastern Redbud is widely grown for its attractive flowers, foliage, and overall appearance. It is commonly used in landscaping and as a specimen tree in gardens, parks, and other public spaces.
The tree’s flowers, fruit, and foliage provide valuable habitat and food sources for a variety of wildlife, including birds, insects, and small mammals.
The wood of the Eastern Redbud tree is dense and durable, with a fine grain and attractive coloration. It is used for a variety of woodworking projects, including furniture, cabinetry, and decorative objects.
The bark, roots, and leaves of the Eastern Redbud tree have been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including fever, coughs, and diarrhea.
“Nature’s Notebook.” The Redbud Phenology Project | USA National Phenology Network. Accessed April 25, 2023. https://www.usanpn.org/nn/redbud
Smith, Brady. “Native Spotlight: Eastern Redbud.” butlerswcd. butlerswcd, April 20, 2021. https://www.butlerswcd.org/single-post/native-spotlight-eastern-redbud#:…
“Redbud.” Redbud-National Tree Candidate. Accessed April 25, 2023. https://www.arborday.org/programs/nationaltree/redbud.cfm#:~:text=Easter…(Cercis%20canadensis)%20is,with%20a%20slightly%20wider%20spread
“Eastern Redbud.” Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, June 1, 2017. https://bernheim.org/learn/trees-plants/bernheim-select-urban-trees/east…
Media and Arts

Roots deeper than the bottom of the ocean,

My love for you is my biggest source of oxytocin.

You’re love language is not words of affirmation, 

But I don’t even bother asking for confirmation. 

I can tell by the way your tiny purple flowers bud,

Your love for me is more rich than the color of blood. 

Even though this winter your branches were lacking leaves,

Your personality shone brighter than stars on the clearest of eves.

I wish I had known you when you were just a small gametophyte,

But boy oh boy am I happy to know you as a mature sporophyte. 

The solution to any congestion or fever,

In you I am the biggest believer.

A descendant of Judas’ worst tragedy,

But to me you are anything but a malady. 

People will say you’re just a plain tree,

But I have never seen anything more beautiful than your heart-shaped leaves colored green.

Even more than your wood is hard and dense,

My obsession with you is intense. 

Although into flat, brown seed pods your flowers fade,

To confess my feelings for you I am unafraid. 

Eastern Redbud is your name, 

I would die for you with no shame.