Know Your Trees: Redbud

Today on Know Your Trees, GM is discussing a tree that rivals cherry trees and magnolias in terms of springtime flash: the redbud.

The redbud (or, rather, eastern redbud, to be specific) is a medium-to-small sized tree, growing only to about 30 feet. It has a spade-shaped leaf that looks like this:

The bark is not terrible distinctive. So apart from the leaf, there are not many particularly distinctive features of the redbud that would help you spot one.

That is unless it’s the spring. Then you can spot them a mile away. That’s because that’s when redbuds sprout brilliantly purple flowers that look like this:

Aside from the eye-catching color, the flowers are also a bit unusual in the way they seem to sprout right out of the branches, as opposed to off of stems, like other tree flowers:

The photo on the top of this piece is of a redbud that once stood on Prospect St. (it’s been cut down). According to the city’s map, there are only two redbuds planted along the streets in Georgetown. Surely there are more on private property.

Probably most people see redbuds in the spring and think “wow that cherry tree is beautiful”. Which is a shame! Unlike cherries, redbuds are a species native to DC. So next spring when someone mistakes a redbud for a cherry, let them know the truth!

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