Cercis siliquastrum
Common Name: Judas tree
Type: Tree
Family: Fabaceae
Native Range: Eastern Mediterranean
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Rose-purple
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, Black Walnut

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Plants perform 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. Winter hardy to USDA Zone 6b. Best sited in a protected location (e.g., south side of a house) if grown in the St. Louis area (Zone 6a).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cercis siliquastrum, commonly called Judas tree or Mediterranean redbud or love tree, is a deciduous, often multi-trunked, understory tree with a rounded crown that typically matures to 15-25’ tall and as wide. This tree is native to woodlands in the Mediterranean region extending from southern Europe to western Asia. It is particularly noted for its stunning pea-like rose-purple or purplish-pink flowers which bloom profusely on bare branches in early spring (March-April) before the foliage emerges. Flowers (each to 3/4” long) bloom in clusters of 3 to 6 on the older growth, typically covering the branches and stems but sometimes also growing from the trunk of the tree. Flowers are larger than those found on most other Cercis species trees. Nearly orbicular heart-shaped leaves (to 3-5” long) emerge bronze red in spring, mature to deep green by summer and finally turn pale yellow to greenish-yellow to chestnut in fall. Rounded leaves lack the distinctive short-pointed tips found on the leaves of C. canadensis. Flowers are followed by ornamentally showy, pendant, leguminous, flattened, purple seed pods (each to 4” long) which mature by late summer but usually remain on the tree well into winter.

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 comes from the Latin word siliqua meaning pod and the suffix –astrum meaning partial resemblance.

Common name of Judas tree is in reference to the claim that Judas Iscariot reportedly hung himself from a Cercis siliquastrum tree. Common name of Mediterranean redbud is in regard to the native territory of this tree. Common name of love tree is in reference to the heart-shaped (cordate) leaves of this tree.

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

Specimen or small groups. Lawns, shrub borders, woodland margins, or along patios. Street tree. Attractive in naturalized settings.