Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
This beauty’s clusters of tiny magenta buds swell into showy rosy-pink flowers in early spring
- George Washington was enamored with the tree and actually transplanted some from the woods to his garden at Mount Vernon.
- Buds appear to emerge right from the bark of twigs and branches and even on parts of the trunk, adorning the tree with miniature clusters of flowers. This phenomenon is known as cauliflory.
- Blossoms look very similar to pea blossoms because the trees are in the same legume plant family, Fabaceae.
- In some parts of Appalachia, green twigs are used as a seasoning for wild game such as venison, giving it the nickname “spicewood.”
- Cercis is from the Greek kerkis, meaning “a weaver’s shuttle” and refers to the shape of the fruit.
- Fruit are long, flat pods produced from late summer into fall and remain on the tree in the winter.
- Blossoms are edible and can add a bright, citrusy taste to salads and can also be pickled. The unopened buds can be used as a caper substitute and the young pods are also edible.