Redbud Tree Types and Species Names of the Cercis Genus

Picture of a Redbud Tree
Cercis siliquastrum Picture showing the pink blossom of the Judas Tree
Picture showing the Judas Tree (Cercis siliquastrum),
the pink blossom is borne in the early spring directly on the trunk.
Photo by Andrew Dunn, Picture use (cc2)

Redbud (Cercis), is a genus containing 20 taxa overall. See list below. Redbud trees are native to warm temperate regions. They can grow as small deciduous trees or large shrubs, depending on their environment. The species of Redbud can be characterized by simple, rounded to heart shaped leaves and pinkish red flowers. These are borne in the early spring on bare leafless shoots.

Descriptions of the most common Redbud Trees;

Judas-tree (Cercis siliquastrum) is a small tree that grows up to 10m - 15m in height, which forms a low tree with a flat spreading head. This species is native to the south of Europe and southwest Asia, in Iberia, southern France, Italy, Greece and Asia Minor. In early spring it is covered with a profusion of magenta pink flowers, which appear before the leaves. The flowers have an acidic taste, and are eaten in mixed salad or made into fritters. The Judas-tree was frequently included in the 16th and 17th century herbals. The origin of the common name of this tree has two possible derivatives; first, the tree is said to be the one from which Judas Iscariot hanged himself after betraying Christ. Secondly, the name may derive from the region name "Judea" encompassing Israel and Palestine where the tree is commonplace.

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a smaller Eastern American woodland understory tree, rarely over 12m tall. This tree can be found growing abundantly from southernmost Canada to piedmont Alabama and East Texas. It differs from Cercis siliquastrum in that its leaves are pointed and slightly smaller in size. The flowers are also used in salads and for making pickled relish, while the inner bark of twigs can be used to produce a mustard yellow dye.

Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis) is closely related to the Eastern Redbud, and ranges from California east to Utah primarily in the foothill regions. Its leaves are more rounded at the tip than the relatively heart shaped leaves of the Eastern Redbud. The tree often forms multi trunked colonies that are covered in bright pink flowers in early spring (February thru March). White-flowered variants are in cultivation. It buds only once a year.

Chain-flowered Redbud (Cercis racemosa) found in western China, is different among other species in the genus, in that it has its flowers in pendulous 10cm racemes, as in Laburnum species, rather than short clusters.

Facts about the Cercis Genus of Trees
  • Genus Latin Scientific Name = Cercis
  • Genus Latin Name Pronunciation: SER-sis
  • Genus Latin Name Meaning: From the Greek kerkis (weaver's shuttle) which refers to the shape of the seed pods.
  • Genus Common Names = Redbud
  • Number of Taxa in the Cercis Genus = 18
List of Redbud Trees, Cercis Genus - All known species, taxa types, organized by scientific Latin botanical name first and common names second
List of Redbud Tree Names
Botanical Tree NameCommon Tree Name
Cercis canadensis Eastern Redbud, (Judas Tree)
Cercis canadensis var. canadensis Eastern Redbud
Cercis canadensis var. mexicana Mexican Redbud
Cercis canadensis var. orbiculata California Redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis Texas Redbud
Cercis chinensis Chinese Redbud
Cercis chingii Ching's Redbud
Cercis chuniana (syn. Cercis likiangensis)¡ ?
Cercis funiushanensis Variation from Cercis Glabra and Cercis Chinensis
Cercis giganteaGiant Redbud
Cercis glabra (syn. Cercis pubescens, Cercis yunnanensis )Yunnan Redbud
Cercis griffithii Afghan Redbud
Cercis hebecarpa ¡ ?
Cercis japonica¡ ?
Cercis occidentalis Western Redbud
Cercis racemosa Chain-flowered Redbud
Cercis reniformis
(This name is also a synonym of Cercis canadensis var. texensis)
Oklahoma Redbud
Cercis siliquastrum Judas-tree, European Redbud

Cercis List last updated on