The Forest Pansy Redbud tree excels in color and form for landscaping in a garden or as an undercover tree.
A cultivar of the Eastern Redbud, the Forest Pansy (Cercis canadensis) is prized as a specimen tree, especially for landscaping for color and form. After being covered in small pink blooms in the spring, the leaves emerge the color of deep burgundy and turn dark green throughout the summer months with purple undersides. Fall foliage is showy with colors from red-orange to yellow. Making it ideal for gardens.
Color depends largely on the hardiness zone. In the southern regions of the United States, the tree does best as a landscape undercover tree and will retain the maroon color longer into the growing season.
The Forest Pansy Redbud is a moderate to fast growing tree. It can grow to 30 feet tall with a spread of 15 to 25 feet. Although hardy, the tree seldom lives longer than 30 years. The crown of the tree is moderately dense with a rounded canopy, with limbs that “play” in the summer breezes.
The limbs will droop as the tree grows and must be trimmed to allow pedestrian and vehicular traffic. The bark of the Forest Pansy Redbud is thin and easily damaged from mechanical impact, so protection from mechanical equipment is important.
Seed pods form on the underside of the limbs, remaining throughout the year, attracting some birds. The seed pods present no litter problem, although the plant reseeds easily and new sprouts will be abundant.
As the tree grows, it is important to manage limb spacing to increase the longevity of the tree. The tree can grow with multiple trunks, although a single trunk is preferable. Prune to reduce the sizes of lateral branches while saving those forming a “U” shape crotch. A “V” shaped crotch splits easily. Keep the lateral branches less than half the diameter of the main trunk and spaced six to ten inches apart.
The tree should not be used extensively along streets due to low disease resistance and short life. Although not prone to diseases and pests, the redbud tree can be damaged by fungal infections like verticillium wilt, canker and leaf spots. Remove any diseased parts and spray with appropriate fungicides. Insects affecting redbud trees can be spider mites, scale insects, tree hoppers and bag worms. Remove the insects at first sight and follow cultural practices to control them.
Infestations by disease and pests are most common when the tree is in stress or has unfavorable growing conditions. Try to provide the best growth conditions possible for a healthier tree.
The redbud tree is a member of the bean and pea family and can gain nitrogen from the air. It thrives in most soil condition and can be found from creek banks to rocky cliffs. It prefers moist, well drained soil and will benefit from some watering during extreme dry conditions.
The redbud tree is sometimes called the “Judas Tree”. According to legend, Judas Iscariot hanged himself from an old world relative of the redbud tree after identifying Jesus Christ to the soldiers. That is the reason the tree is now so weak-wooded, as it refuses to grow branches that would be strong enough to hang another. The name could also be derived from “Judea’s tree”, being from the region of Israel and Palestine, where the tree is commonplace.
The flowers, the colorful leaves and the rounded canopy shape of the Forest Pansy Redbud tree makes it ideal for planting in any type of landscape design. From formal gardens to natural landscapes, this tree gives beautiful eye appeal for many years.