Step outside this week and discover nature as redbuds begin to bloom.
The Eastern Redbud lends a quaint charm to the Missouri hillsides in early spring when the pink hues of the flowers are in sharp contrast with the brown leaves covering the forest floor.
It is believed by some that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had a hand in naming this tree. Legend has it that it was this tree upon which Judas Iscariot hanged himself. Each year in remorse it weeps tears of blood-like blossoms at Easter time. Blossom time coincides with that of serviceberry and wild plum. In most years it blooms slightly before the dogwood.
Redbud is a small to medium understory tree found in nearly every county in Missouri. It’s very showy in the spring when the leafless twigs are covered with masses of pink flowers. Redbud is often planted as an ornamental but also makes an attractive addition to wildlife or windbreak plantings.
The Redbud is a legume and the fruit is a pod. The flat pod is two to three inches long and hangs onto the twigs throughout the winter. Bright reddish, pea-like blossoms are clustered along the twigs before the leaf buds unfold.
Heart-shaped leaves identify this tree - dark green in summer, turning yellow in autumn.
Its bark is red-brown, separating into thin scales. Trees growing rapidly will produce heavy flaking of bark, giving the trunk a diseased appearance. Diameters seldom exceed six inches while heights rarely exceed 15 feet.
Trees improve the value of your land and the environment as a whole, conserving water, air and soil, and providing important food and cover for wildlife. Landscaping and windbreaks around homes and farmsteads can significantly reduce energy consumption and noise pollution.
Redbud and other native starts are available from the Missouri Department of Conservation nursery in Licking, Missouri. Information about the nursery can be found online at www.mdc.mo.gov.
To keep track of current natural events like when to watch for blooming redbuds, you can also get your own Natural Events Calendar from the Missouri Department of Conservation.