Something that we can all take joy in during these trying times is witnessing our native plants coming out of dormancy. Presently the cherries, crabapples, plums, dogwoods and redbuds are in full blossom.
Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a very common native plant that prefers disturbed areas that are somewhat dry, such as alongside roadways. Right now, redbuds are in bloom, and they have a very showy, dark pink flower. It’s a small tree, rarely attaining a height of 30 feet; they have a brief lifespan, usually lasting no longer than 30 years.
Redbuds are in the legume family, meaning that their seed is enclosed in a pod. Legumes can extract nitrogen out of the air and deposit it in the ground, thereby enriching the soil. This capacity makes redbud a good choice for reforesting dry, barren sites such as strip mine reclamation areas.
The showy, persistent bloom of the redbud makes it a popular ornamental tree, and a number of cultivars have been developed. The Bible recounts how Judas hung himself from a redbud tree after betraying Jesus. That is why the redbud is also known as the Judas tree.