The Eastern Redbud

(Cercis canadensis)

The Eastern Redbud is a small deciduous tree known for its display of pink flower blossoms when in bloom. Native to eastern North America, this species has a hardiness zone of 6b. It is adaptable to climates ranging from central Mexico to Ontario, Canada, and has expanded its habitat range to include most of the United States.



Eastern Redbud leaves are easy to spot, having a distinct heart shape to them. They can range in color from red to green to yellow, depending on the time of year, and grow in an alternate pattern.

picture of eastern red bud leaves


These trees bloom in April and are one of the first species to bloom in the spring. These flowers appear before leaves begin growing and range from pink to purple. Flowers are then replaced with seed pods which remain present throughout the winter.

eastern red bud flowers

Bark and Buds

The bark of Eastern Redbud is reddish-brown in colorand thin, often having a multi-trunk shape. Younger trees have a smooth bark, which turns scaly with age. Twigs are zigzagged and spotted dark gray. Leaf buds are tiny and a red color, while flower buds are rounded and found in clusters.

eastern redbud bark and buds


Eastern Redbud is tolerant of black walnut, which secretes toxins into the soil, deer foraging, and fire. It's thick roots help this species to withstand storm, ice, and wind damage. 

caterpillar on an eastern redbud

Different bird species use the Eastern Redbud as a habitat and food source (seeds). The flower pollen attracts several butterfly species.

cardinal in an eastern redbud

Diseases that affect the Eastern Redbud include leaf anthracnose, Botryosphaeria canker, and verticillium wilt. Several insects will feed on the leaves and bark of this species.

eastern redbud leaves

Historic Uses

Many parts of redbud are edible. Native peoples used redbud for a variety of medicinal treatments including:

  • bark tea for whooping cough
  • lotion made from bark for dysentery
  • roots and inner bark for fevers, congestion, and nausea

Abbi Badman - Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Intern