Cercis canadensis 'Hearts of Gold'
Common Name: eastern redbud 
Type: Tree
Family: Fabaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 20.00 to 25.00 feet
Spread: 25.00 to 35.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Reddish-purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil, Black Walnut


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Part shade is best in hot summer climates. Performs best in moderately fertile soils with regular and consistent moisture. Avoid wet or poorly drained soils. Since this tree does not transplant well, it should be planted when young and left undisturbed.

In full sun locations, the foliage retains good golden color until gradually changing to chartreuse as the summer progresses. In part shade locations, the foliage acquires a greener chartreuse coloration as summer progresses. Golden foliage is considered to be burn-resistant in full sun.

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.

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.

'Hearts of Gold' is a golden-leaved cultivar that was discovered growing in a garden at a private residence in Greensboro, North Carolina in 2002. First asexual propagation was by budwood grafting which occurred at Hidden Hollow Nursery in Belvidere, Tennessee in August of 2002. ‘Hearts of Gold' is primarily distinguished from other redbuds by (a) its attractive golden foliage and (b) its ability to produce flower buds on one-year old whips. It typically grows to 10' tall over the first 5 years, eventually maturing over time to 20-25' tall. Clusters of tiny, reddish-purple, pea-like flowers bloom for 2-3 weeks in early spring (March-April) before the foliage emerges. Flower buds are produced on one year whips, whereas flower buds on most other cultivars of this species appear only after two or three years. Fruits (flattened legumes) on this cultivar are rarely produced. Semi-glossy, broad-ovate, heart-shaped leaves (to 3-5" long and as wide) emerge with orange-red coloration before maturing to bright gold. Golden leaves gradually pale to chartreuse or yellowish-green as summer progresses. U.S. Plant Patent PP17,740 was issued on May 15, 2007.


Canker can be a significant disease problem. Verticillium wilt, dieback, leaf spots, mildew and blights may also occur. Insect pests include Japanese beetles, tree hoppers, leaf hoppers, caterpillars, borers, webworms and scale. Keeping the tree vigorous by regular watering and fertilization and by pruning out dead branches as needed will help keep the tree healthy.

Garden Uses

Specimen or small groups. Lawns, shrub borders, woodland margins, or along patios.