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Redbud

Cercis canadensis

In 1781, Thomas Jefferson listed "redbud or Judas-tree" in his Notes on the State of Virginia as a native "Esculent" tree.1 He intended it to be a part of his shrubbery scheme for the western slope of Monticello and in the clumps of trees planted in the angles of the house in 1807.2 He likewise directed that redbuds be planted among clumps of native trees and shrubs at Poplar Forest in 1812.3 One of the earliest American references to this tree was made by John Custis in correspondence with Peter Collinson in 1735.4

The eastern redbud is a hardy, deciduous, spring flowering tree with graceful heart-shaped leaves and purplish-pink, pea-like flowers.

Primary Source References

1771. "The Open Ground on the West. ... Trees.— ... Redbud."5

1771 September 30. "Trees. ... Red-bud."6

1791 May 8. (Jefferson to Maria Jefferson Eppes). "May 4. the gelder rose, Dogwood, Red bud, and Azalea were in blossom."7

1807 April 16. "[P]lanted as follows. ... I. Red bud (N. E. clump) ... the above were from Maine except 5 horse chestnuts from nursery & the Redbud."8

1812 November. " ... clump of Athenian & Balsam poplars at each corner of house. intermix locusts, common & Kentucky, red-buds, dogwoods, calycanthus, liriodendron."9

1817 January. "the Red bud [comes into blossom from] April 2 [to] Apr. 19."10

1818 April 11. (Jefferson to Jacob Bigelow). "the red-bud blooms Apr. 2 [to] 19."11

Further Sources

Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Redbud.
Growth Type: 
Deciduous Tree
Color(s): 
Pink, Purple
Hardiness Zones: 
Zone 4, Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
Location at Monticello: 
Various Locations
Planting Conditions: 
Full to Part Sun
Blooming History: 
April 1, 2002 to April 23, 2002March 31, 2003 to April 30, 2003March 29, 2004 to May 1, 2004April 5, 2005 to May 2, 2005March 31, 2006 to April 28, 2006March 28, 2007 to April 30, 2007April 4, 2008 to May 2, 2008April 2, 2009 to May 6, 2009March 25, 2010 to April 23, 2010March 29, 2011 to April 26, 2011March 19, 2012 to April 13, 2012April 11, 2013 to May 7, 2013April 8, 2014 to May 9, 2014April 6, 2015 to May 8, 2015March 14, 2016 to May 6, 2016March 20, 2017 to April 20, 2017April 4, 2018 to May 2, 2018March 27, 2019 to April 24, 2019March 23, 2020

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