Schattagen Bench Dedication

Above left, the gorgeous deep fuchsia colored blooms of the redbud cultivar ‘Appalachian Red’ make quite a statement in the spring. Above right, a close-up of eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis, buds starting to burst into bloom. The blooms are an obvious testament to the fact that the blooms are in the same family as peas and beans.


Eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis, is a well-known, easily grown, 20- to 30-foot native tree that often exhibits multiple trunks and always has beautiful heart-shaped leaves. Its genus name is derived from the Greek kerkis, which translates as “weaver’s shuttle” in reference to the shape of the tree’s fruits, which are like tiny peapods and can be eaten when young and tender. Redbud flowers also are edible and pretty in a salad.


Redbud bark is smooth and gray when the tree is young but turns darker with age — a beautiful foil to its pea-like blooms that span the pink-purple color spectrum. The “red” in redbud is meant to refer to its tiny flower buds, which are darker in color, but also not red, or at least on the native tree. Blooming in March and April, the tree’s blossoms are like a blush of color rising on the cheeks of spring.


Hybridizers have had a field day with the redbud, creating new cultivars with many variations in bloom and foliage color as well as shape and size. Some examples are pictured here.


For more brilliant flower color, ‘Appalachian Red’ sports vivid deep, fuchsia-colored blooms.


‘Forest Pansy’ is a purple leaved cultivar with variable fall color that can include shades of red-purple and orange.


The early foliage of ‘Rising Sun’ is golden orange maturing to orange, gold, yellow and lime. New leaves provide a continuous mix of colors. The fall foliage is yellow and orange. The tree has a mature height of 8- to 12-feet tall. Small and gorgeous.


Considered a dwarf variety, ‘Ace of Hearts’, with an expected height of 12 feet, also is perfect for a smaller space. Its dark green foliage turns brilliant yellow in fall. It is exceptionally heat and drought tolerant.


The blooms of ‘Lavender Twist’ completely cover the tree’s slightly contorted, weeping branches that then form a 6- to 8-foot-tall umbrella of heart-shaped foliage. It is a beautiful specimen tree.


White blooming varieties sometimes occur naturally, but ‘Alba’ and ‘Royal White’ are two that are commercially available — though they are not referred to as whitebuds.


There are many more cultivars with names like ‘Flamethrower’, ‘Carolina Sweetheart’ (gorgeous pink and white variegated leaves), ‘Merlot’, ‘Ruby Twist’, ‘Ruby Falls’, ‘Hearts of Gold’ and more. You get the rosy redbud picture.


Left to right, redbud cultivar ‘Rising Sun’, a close-up of ‘Rising Sun’s’ leaves, the original native redbud and the ‘Ace of Heart’s cultivar, one of which is growing near the southwest corner of Jesse Hall.


Left to right, redbud cultivar ‘Forest Pansy’, a close-up of ‘Forest Pansy’s’ fall leaf color, a collection of redbuds growing at the Reichman Pavilion in Stephens Park, and ‘Lavender Twist’.


Content by Jan Wiese-Fales. Photos by Chris Starbuck