Cercis canadensis f. alba 'Royal White'
Common Name: eastern redbud
Type: Tree
Family: Fabaceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Street Tree, Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil, Black Walnut

Culture

The best environment for white redbud is full sun to light shade with moist well-drained deep soil. It is adaptable to other soil types but will not grow well in permanently wet or poorly drained soil. Since this tree does not transplant easily, it should be planted when young. It is best to buy redbuds from local sources as trees from other areas may not be cold-hardy in your region.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cercis canadensis, commonly called eastern redbud, is a deciduous, often multi-trunked understory tree with a rounded crown that typically matures to 20-30’ tall with a slightly larger spread. It is particularly noted for its stunning pea-like rose-purple flowers which bloom profusely on bare branches in early spring (March-April) before the foliage emerges. This tree is native to eastern and central North America from Connecticut to New York to southern Ontario and the Great Lakes south to Western Texas and Florida. It is found in open woodlands, thickets, woodland margins, limestone glades and along rocky streams and bluffs throughout Missouri (Steyermark). Flowers (to ½” wide) bloom in clusters of 4-10. Flowers are followed by flattened leguminous bean-like dry seedpods (to 2-4” long) that mature to brown in summer. Each pod has 6-12 seeds. Pods may remain on the tree into winter. Alternate, simple, cordate, broadly ovate to nearly orbicular, dull green to blue-green leaves (3-5” across) have a papery texture and are short pointed at the tip. Leaves turn pale yellow to greenish-yellow in fall. Cercis canadensis is the state tree of Oklahoma.

Forma alba has white flowers.

Genus name comes from the Greek word kerkis meaning weaver’s shuttle in reference to the resemblance of each seed pod to a weaver’s shuttle.

Specific epithet is in reference to Canada (southern Ontario) being part of the native range of this tree.

‘Royal White’ is a white-flowered cultivar noted for its pure white flowers. ‘Royal White’ was discovered in 1940 by Royal Oakes of Bluffs, Illinois, as a seedling from a native tree. It is uncommonly found in commerce. The more common white redbud found in commerce is C. canadensis f. alba. In comparison to C. canadensis f. alba, ‘Royal White’ is a more compact tree, blooms earlier, is more floriferous and produces larger flowers. ‘Royal White’ is synonymous with and sometimes called ‘Royal’.

Problems

Redbuds are subject to damage by insect pests such as tree hoppers, caterpillars, scale, and leafhoppers. Diseases include Verticillium wilt, leaf spots, and the worst disease, canker. Keeping the tree vigorous by regular watering and fertilization and by pruning out dead branches will help keep the tree healthy. 'Alba' may be less robust than the typical redbud.

Garden Uses

Redbud is an attractive tree in many situations including a specimen tree, the shrub border, or as a street or lawn tree in residential areas. It is especially attractive in group plantings or in naturalized settings.