Plant Profile – Episode 1 – Western Redbud

Western Redbud

Cercis occidentalis

Western Redbud is a shrub or small tree up to about 20 ft tall that is in the Pea Family, Fabaceae. It produces brightly colored red-purple blooms along the stems in Spring, and rounded heart-shaped leaves soon follow. Like other members of the Pea Family, it has a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria that reside in nodules in the plant’s roots and “fix” atmospheric nitrogen into the soil in a form the plants can use.

Western Redbud is a fire-adapted shrub that soon resprouts after fire. California Native Peoples coppiced them to promote straight regrowth used for basketry and tools. It occurs widely in the foothill habitats throughout California and is utilized extensively for landscaping, owing to its beautiful flowers, gorgeous fall color, and ease of cultivation. It produces seeds in pea-like pods that may persist on the stems for a few seasons.

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