Cercis canadensis 'Ace of Hearts'
Common Name: eastern redbud
Type: Tree
Family: Fabaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 9.00 to 12.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 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
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Tolerate: Deer, Clay Soil

Culture

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.

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.

'Ace of Hearts' is distinguished by its (a) compact habit, (b) semi-glossy, heart-shaped leaves on zig-zag stems, and (c) dense dome-shaped canopy which typically requires no pruning. It typically grows as a single trunk tree (average diameter of 4") to 12' tall and to 15' wide. Clusters of tiny, reddish-purple, pea-like flowers bloom for 2-3 weeks in early spring (March-April) before the foliage emerges. Fruits (flattened legumes) are rarely produced. Broad, ovate-cordate, dark green leaves (to 2.6" long and to 2.5" wide) turn yellow in fall. It was selected for asexual propagation by budding at the Shadow Nursery in Winchester, Tennessee from a mass planting of species plants at Morganton, North Carolina. Parents are unknown. U.S. Plant Patent PP17,161 was issued on October 24, 2006.

Problems

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

Compact specimen tree for small garden and landscape areas.