Theodore Payne California Native Plant Database

Cercis occidentalis

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Cercis occidentalis
Cercis occidentalis
Cercis occidentalis
Cercis occidentalis
Cercis occidentalis
Cercis occidentalis

Species Name: Cercis occidentalis
Common Name: Western Redbud

A gorgeous tree: brilliant magenta pea-shaped flowers in early spring, followed by lovely heart-shaped leaves that turn red and orange in fall.

Plant Family: Fabaceae
Plant Type: Tree
Height by Width: 15' H x 10' W
Growth Habit: Multi-trunked, rounded
Deciduous/Evergreen: Winter deciduous
Growth Rate: Fast
Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Soil Preference: Adaptable
Water Requirements: Moderate to regular
Cold Hardy to: 4500'
Flower Season: Spring
Flower Color: Hot pink
Endangered?: Not Listed
Distribution: Northern CA, Sierras, San Joaquin Valley, and extreme southwest CA to Utah and Arizona
Natural Habitat: Dry slopes, canyons, ravines or stream banks in Chaparral, Foothill Woodland and Yellow Pine Forest below 4500'

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Care and Maintenance
Don't worry about half-circle cuts on the edges of young redbud leaves. Carpenter bees use these soft leaves to build their nests, cutting nickle-sized circles just at the edges of redbud leaves in the spring. Similar cuts can be found in other soft-leaved plants, native and non-native. Carpenter bees are great pollinators, especially for tomato plants, and they are not aggressive.
  • Introduced into cultivation in California by Theodore Payne.
  • From California Native Plants, Theodore Payne's 1941 catalog: "Deciduous shrub 8 to 15 feet high, with roundish light green leaves and red-purple pea-shaped flowers. The blossoms are produced in great profusion and the shrub is exceedingly attractive when covered with flowers in winter and early spring. Gallon cans, 75c; 5 gallon cans, $2.00."
Other Names
  • Bornstein, Carol, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien. California Native Plants for the Garden. Los Olivos, CA: Cachuma Press. 2005.
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