Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud)

Michael's Opinion

An excellent tree, one of my top ten even though it is prone to limb splitting when it reaches maturity. Combine the rarer Alba cultivar with groupings of the species to spectacular effect in the spring. The cultivar Forest Pansy if planted in partial shade will retain its leaf colour through the summer months, with the new foliage more pronounced in colour than older leaves.

Botanical Information

TypeTree (deciduous)
ReferencesWidely available.
OriginA North American species related to Cercis silquastrum from China which has larger flowers but is not hardy for us in Ontario. The word Cercis is a derivative of the Greek word, kerkis, a weaver’s shuttle, which Theophrastus likened the tree's flattened woody fruits to.


USDA Hardiness Zone4 - 9
USDA Hardiness Ref.
Canadian Hardiness Zone6
Canada Hardiness Ref.
RHS Hardiness Ref.
Temperature (°C)-18 to -23
Temperature (°F)-10 to -20
Height4 m
Spread4 m
Flowering PeriodMay

Description and Growing Information

ID CharacteristicCordate shaped leaves 6-10cm across, light green in colour. Clusters of pink, pea like flowers along branches and trunk prior to leaf emergence in the spring.
ShapeFlat, broad spreading crown, as wide as tall.
LandscapeAn excellent plant for shade gardens and edges or margins of the landscape border.
PropagationSeeds easily in most garden soils. Cultivars are often propagated by hardwood cuttings but are difficult to root.
CultivationEasily grown on good garden soils and tolerant of partial shade. An easily cultured plant, however it is prone to splitting apart when it reaches maturity.
PestsFew of note, in fact the leaves remain mostly blemish free for the entire growing season.
Notable SpecimensThe A.M. (Mac) Cuddy Garden, Strathroy, Ontario. The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario and Ridgetown College, Ridgetown, Ontario.
HabitatFound in the Carolinian area of the United States as an understory tree in climax forests.
Bark DescriptionFinely plated, dark grey, limbs often prone to splitting in heavy, wet snows.
Leaf DescriptionCordate shaped leaves to 6-10cm across, light green in colour. Dull green on the underside and often slightly downy at the vein leaf axils.
Flower DescriptionFlowers are rose-purple, with a bell shaped calyx and the corolla having five petals. Clusters of 4-8 pink, pea like flowers along branches and trunk prior to leaf emergence in the spring. The flowers of Alba are white.
Fruit DescriptionThin pods, often to 4-6cm long and held in clusters of one to several. Retained through the winter months, turning silver-grey.
Colour DescriptionSporadic, yellow autumn colour.
Texture DescriptionA medium textured tree.