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CERCIS occidentalis

Image of Cercis occidentalis

Michael Charters, www.calflora.net

Family

Fabaceae

Botanical Name

CERCIS occidentalis

Plant Common Name

California Redbud, Western Redbud

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

The drought tolerance and intense color make western redbud a top notch tree for dry gardens. It is native to the hill country of California, Arizona and Utah where the dry season can result in no rainfall for as long as six months a year. It prefers conditions from the toe of west facing foothill exposures to middle elevations. This prized member of the dry garden is a multi-stemmed tree in the wild, branching off a large underground woody crown. Its distinctive large heart-shaped leaves are often tinted with bronze when they first emerge, turning medium green shortly after. This plant is adapted to such drought that it shows smoky sunset leaf color as early as Augustin habitat, illustrating its early dormancy as a means of withstanding prolonged drought.

This is one of the first trees to bloom in spring. Its branches become encrusted with small fuchsia colored pea-like blossoms, which indicate its presence in the legume family. Immediately after bloom new growth begins. Over summer an abundance of large flat brown pods develop and may remain on the tree for a year or more. Redbud is a species renewed by natural fire, and therefore old decadent plants may be cut back by hard pruning to achieve similar results. In the wild, western redbud is typically found on gentle slopes with poor soils, which indicates the importance of replicating these conditions in the garden. It is far more sensitive to summer water than its eastern cousins. If provided with irrigation these plants will grow very quickly and produce a beautiful single specimen, but they are known to show greater autumn color in extremely dry conditions.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    10'-15' / 3.0m - 4.6m (10)

  • Width

    10'-12' / 3.0m - 3.7m (10)

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring

  • Native To

    Western United States, California

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Arching/Fountain-shaped

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Magenta

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gold, Sienna, Rose

  • Bark Color

    Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes