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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Redbud


(Cercis canadensis L.)

  The redbud, sometimes called Judas tree from its oriental relative of that name, is a small tree that grows beneath taller trees. It also grows on the borders of fields, on hillsides and in valleys throughout the state, being most abundant in the Piedmont and least abundant in the mountains. The tree ordinarily reaches a height of 15 to 30 feet and a diameter of 6 to 10 inches. Its stout branches usually form a wide, flat head.

Redbud bark is dark gray to black. It is smooth when young and later develops into long, narrow plates that separate into thin scales.

The leaves are alternate, heart-shaped, smooth-margined, 3 to 5 inches long and wide. They are glossy green, turning to a bright clear yellow in autumn.

The conspicuous, bright purplish-red, pea-shaped flowers grow in clusters along the twigs and small branches and appear before or with the leaves in early spring. Redbud flowers in full bloom can make a drive through the country quite memorable.

The fruit is an oblong, flattened, many-seeded pod, that is 2 to 4 inches long. It is reddish during the summer and often hangs on the tree most of the winter.

The wood is heavy, hard, not strong and rich, dark brown in color. It has little commercial value. Redbud is cultivated as an ornamental tree.
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