Saturday, April 21, 2012

Redbud - Cercis canadensis

Cercis canadensis, Redbud in Eckhart Landscape

I enjoy driving to work this time of year since parts of my route take me through Michaux State Forest and I can observe the leaf out of the trees, as well as the spectacular blooms of our native Redbud, Cercis canadensis.

The pictures are from my landscape - specimens acquired 7 years ago from the Franklin County Conservation District's annual tree seedling sale.

Redbud blooms also have a professional interest for me, because their bloom time coincides with the hatch and emergence of the destructive forest pest, the gypsy moth, or Lymantria dispar. Next week's news column talks about gypsy moth, as well as the start of the mosquito season.

Cercis canadensis, Redbud in Eckhart Landscape
Another common name for a Redbud is The Judas Tree, acquired from the legend that Judas hanged himself from a similar Middle Eastern species Cercis siliquastrum.

Alternative reasons suggest that the flowers and seed pods resemble a tableau of Judas hanging himself, or, more simply, that 'Judas' is merely a corruption of 'Judean', as the tree was once common in the Judean hills.

The generic name, Cercis, comes from the Greek ‘Kerkis’, a weaver’s shuttle, which the fruits are said to resemble.

According to Wikipedia, "In some parts of southern Appalachia, green twigs from the Eastern redbud are used as seasoning for wild game such as venison and opossum. Because of this, in these mountain areas the Eastern redbud is sometimes known as the spicewood tree."

Redbud is an understory tree and it is one of the the larval host plants for the Io Moth, Automeris Io.

Cercis canadensis, Redbud in Eckhart Landscape

The redbud is the state tree of Oklahoma and is a legume belonging to the pea family, Fabaceae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae.

Besides all that - it's just plain pretty,and that's enough for me.


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