Cercis, commonly known as Redbud trees or Judas trees, display clusters of brightly coloured, pea-like small flowers on bare branches in spring. Ornate heart shaped foliage turns fantastic colours in autumn and decorative seed pods later in the year add further interest to these feature packed trees and shrubs.
Choose from a range of Cercis varieties that have different sizes, habits, forms and features, ensuring there is a variety to suit any space. They are all relatively small, with Cercis canadensis 'Lavender Twist' and Cercis canadensis 'Ruby Falls' being our smallest offerings and growing to just 2 metres in height after 20 years.
The clusters of small, pea-like Redbud flowers adorn bare branches and, on some varieties, such as Cercis chinensis 'Avondale' and Cercis siliquastrum, they can even grow directly on the trunk. Cercis flowers are available in shades of pink, purple and white. They are popular with bees for the large amount of nectar available. Another fine feature of Cercis trees are the colourful heart-shaped leaves that come in shades including blue-green, vibrant lime and deep red. Long, dark coloured seed pods hang from the foliage as it bursts with warm autumn colours later in the year.
Redbud trees can tolerate both sheltered and exposed positions and prefer deep, well-drained soils in a full sun or partially shaded position. For further information on planting Redbud trees, visit our help and advice page or take a look at our planting essentials to help get you started.
Cercis is part of the Caesalpiniaceae family and is made up of 7 different varieties. The name Cercis comes from the Greek kerkis meaning ‘shuttle’, which refers to the shape of the flat seedpods that decorate the branches in autumn and resemble a weaver’s shuttle tool.
Cercis siliquastrum, a variety of Cercis, is commonly known as the 'Judas tree', due to the long-standing myth that Judas Iscariot (one of Jesus’ twelve apostles), hanged himself from a Redbud tree. Fitting with this myth, the flowers and seedpods are believed to hang down from the branches imitating Judas' suicide. The deep pink flowers that appear on Cercis siliquastrum in the spring are said to blush pink in shame because of the suicide. Following this, it is also said that if you stand under a Judas tree and tell a lie, you will drop down dead! Another interpretation of the name ‘Judas tree’ stems from the French common name, Arbre de Judée, which means tree of Judea, referring to the hilly regions of that country where this variety of tree used to be common.