|'Forest Pansy' Redbuds add a welcome splash of spring color to the northwest corner of the Mitchell Building.|
Eastern Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) are native to a far larger portion of the eastern United States than the much better known Flowering Dogwood tree. While the USDA map shows both being present in Kansas, there may be all of fifteen native Flowering Dogwoods trees growing in natural populations in Eastern Kansas (fifteen may be generous as I have never seen one growing in the wild myself in that area) while there are millions of Redbuds in Eastern Kansas that are impossible to miss. To see the vast numbers of purplish pink flowered Redbuds of Eastern Kansas come into bloom alongside of the fragrant white flowers of Sandplum thickets is to witness one of North America's most spectacular large scale floral displays. Redbuds usually grow at the edge of woods where that they receive a lot of sun and are very visible.
|The above six pictures are of an Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) located East of Worcester Hall.|
Being able to thrive in extreme climates such as in Kansas means that Redbuds are much more adaptabile and resilient trees than Flowering Dogwoods. Redbuds are also able to thrive in poorer and drier soils than Flowering Dogwoods. Redbuds have the most flowers when planted in full sun; however, will grow in partial shade also. They seem to reach their maximum growth potential and maximum longevity if planted on the north side of a building, far enough out that they get full sun, but do not get reflected heat.
Have seen extreme natural variation in tree size and density of foliage within very small areas in natural populations. A few of the smaller forms are almost shrub like. Some trees can get an attractive reddish brown exfoliating bark on their trunks as they mature. Redbuds are often multi-stemmed trees in the wild and are sometimes sold in nurseries as multi-stemmed specimens. I once saw a magnificent old multi-stemmed tree in Kansas City, Kansas that had beautiful reddish brown exfoliating bark on its 15 inch plus branches. The form was very much like as if you chopped off the entire single stemmed trunk in the first picture below, leaving a broad spreading multi-stemmed tree.
There are white flowered forms of the Eastern Redbud; however, the older and more common ones that I am aware of that are usually available in the nursery industry are from southern sources and do not have good winter hardiness in northern areas. Hoping that someone will start propagating some of the white forms from more northern sources such as the small native population of white flowered Eastern Redbuds that I saw along I-70 in Eastern Ohio a number of years ago as selections from northern sources should be more cold hardy.
There are a number of different cultivars now of Eastern Redbud that were selected for different attributes such as weeping habits, variegated foliage, bright pink flowers etc. The multi-colored newly emerged foliage of 'Forest Pansy' Redbud is magnificent. When viewing from the under side of the leaf with the sun shining through, the leaves are primarily a beautiful intense dark red color with some bronzy yellow-green color near where that the leaf attaches to the petiole. When viewing the upper side of the leaf with sunlight being reflected from the leaf, the leaf surface appears to be a purplish red color.
|The above five photos are of a 'Forest Pansy' Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy') located Northwest of the Mitchell Building.|
Mexican Redbud and Texas Redbud are varieties of the Eastern Redbud. 'Oklahoma,' is a very thick, large leaved plant that is a cultivar of the Texas Redbud. There are four 'Oklahoma' Redbuds in the Chemistry Courtyard and one Eastern Redbud in the same location which makes comparison easy.
There are Redbuds of different species in many parts of the world. One of the more commonly available non-native redbuds in our area is the Chinese Redbud (Cercis chinensis). We have a cultivar of Chinese Redbud named 'Avondale' on the East side of LeFrak Hall. Chinese Redbud is a smaller tree than the Eastern Redbud and is usually much more shrub like in appearance than are Eastern Redbuds.
|The above ten pictures are of 'Avondale' Chinese Redbuds (Cercis canadensis 'Avondale') located on the East side of Lefrak Hall.|
Additional information on Redbuds including different cultivars can be found by clicking on the links below to recent blog posts by horticulturists from Indiana and Ohio:
Les Belles Redbud Fleurs
Continous Interest: A Cercis Sampler
Sam Bahr, author and photographer