Photographed last April at Riverview Arboretum, the small cluster of Cercis canadensis plants there provide a showy (though small) display, even on grey rainy days.
For today’s entry, let’s start with an excerpt from the Vancouver Trees App, written by UBC Botanical Garden’s Douglas Justice. He writes:
The genus Cercis is comprised of approximately a dozen species of deciduous trees and shrubs, native to North America, Europe and Asia. The species can all be recognized by their alternately arranged, often glossy, heart-shaped leaves and especially their flowers, which are produced before leaf emergence in showy inflorescences both on the current season’s shoots and directly out of mature branches, including the dark, heavily textured trunks of older trees. This habit of flowering out of old wood, seemingly randomly and where no buds are visible, is known as cauliflory (caul = stem + flory = flowering) and is primarily restricted to woody plants of the tropics.
Redbuds are members of the legume family (Fabaceae). The flowers are bee pollinated and much like typical pea flowers, although there are some botanically important structural differences. Other notable departures from typical pea characteristics include: no nitrogen-fixing, root-nodulating bacterial association, and simple leaves. Most legumes form mutualistic associations with a nitrogen fixing bacteria (Rhizobium spp.) and have compound leaves. The species are nonetheless much like other woody pea family members, with papery leguminous fruits, and a general preference for warm, dry conditions. In those species that grow large enough to be considered trees, crown shape is usually rounded, ultimately flat-topped, but irregular and often messy, with several upright branches competing with existing uprights for dominance. The name Cercis is derived from the Greek, kerkis, a weaver’s shuttle, to which Theophrastus likened the flattened legumes of the European Cercis siliquastrum.
In the Vancouver area, Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud) is the most commonly cultivated Cercis species. It is native to eastern North America, from Ontario south to the Gulf of Mexico. The typical form produces a strongly rounded crown of lush, green, heart-shaped, pointed leaves that turn yellow in autumn. In spring the lavender-pink flowers are borne all over the stems and a tree in bloom can be spectacular.
On to some housekeeping: I’ve added a page with links to month-by-month archives of previous entries. If you visit that page, you’ll see I make note that I have a huge task ahead of me in updating / revising old entries to conform to this software. The good thing about the task is it also forces me to correct / replace out-of-date links. Have a visit through the repaired entries from April 2005 if you have the time!