The Eastern Redbud

A Heart-Felt Memorial Tree Gift

Famous for its beautiful heart-shaped leaves and the bright, eye-catching pinks and purples of its flower blossoms, the Eastern Redbud, or Cercis canadensis, makes an ideal gift, both to brighten its surroundings and to provide remembrance for a loved one. Beyond its visual charm, this hardwood tree is incredibly simple to care for, while resilient against storms, windy conditions, and colder temperatures. The redbud also pops up throughout the histories of various peoples across North America – it is now the state tree of Oklahoma, in fact – meaning planting an Eastern Redbud as a memorial tree imbues a rich vein of history into a commemoration for the dearly departed.

The Gift of Heart

The foliage of the Eastern Redbud is easily identifiable by its unique heart-like shape. Its leaves can grow to be roughly four inches long and wide, gradually turning dark green throughout the summer before the autumn colors take hold, blessing the scenery with yellow, orange, and red-colored hearts. In the early spring, bursts of pink or reddish-purple flowers begin to grow on the trunk and branches of the tree, making the Redbud one of the earliest blooming trees of spring.

Once at full bloom, the Eastern Redbud is a magnificent sight to behold, with its branches completely enveloped by rings of brightly colored flowers where leaves once grew. It maintains this appearance throughout the entirety of spring before leaf growth begins in May, when these flowers make way for the redbud’s iconic heart-shaped leaves.The beauty of the Eastern Redbud lasts year-round throughout all the seasons, making it a perfect heart-felt gift to memorialize a loved one.

Eastern Redbud History

The Eastern Redbud gets its name because it is native to eastern North America, where it can be found growing by itself or within woodlands as far north as Ontario, Canada and as far south as Florida. Many different Native American tribes encountered and made use of different parts of the redbud tree. The tannin in bark was utilized as a treatment for dysentery, while they could also brew tea from the bark as a remedy for whooping cough. The tree’s roots and inner bark were said to help with fevers, vomiting, and congestion, while its flowers, once fried, could become a source of food.

When Spanish settlers first came onshore in North America, they noticed the prominence of the Eastern Redbud and were taken aback by its beauty and usefulness. They eventually cultivated the tree for both decorative and practical purposes, a tradition that has persisted throughout the centuries. For example, George Washington planted many an Eastern Redbud in his gardens at Mount Vernon, his family homestead, which provided elegance, natural medicine, and a source of food, as the flower buds could be eaten directly or turned into a jam. Another Founding Father who saw the allure of this stout hardwood was Thomas Jefferson, who grew them in Monticello, his household plantation, where Eastern Redbud trees are cultivated and even sold to this day.

Eastern Redbud Cultivation

The Eastern Redbud is a very low-maintenance and resilient plant, able to grow in a variety of soil conditions and in shadier areas with lower levels of sunlight, though it does need to be planted in well-drained soil. This makes it a versatile addition to an existing tree grouping in addition to already being a gorgeous standalone tree. For example, the redbud can be used as either a specimen tree to be the centerpiece of a garden, or as a border plant in any yard.

Since the Eastern Redbud is also an understory tree, usually growing to be no more than 20-30 feet in height when mature, it makes a good addition to any existing wooded area, while also being an excellent source of shade when planted near an open yard or patio. A tree with incredible star potential, with the ability to shine in any space it is given, the redbud is perfect for a lasting remembrance of those at rest.

Give a Piece of Your Heart

Cercis canadensis combines beauty with the rich tradition of centuries of cultivation and use as well as the ease created by its resilience and adaptability, while its distinct heart-shaped leaves are a perfect symbol to memorialize those loved ones who are in a better place. Whether it’s as a gift for someone who facing loss of family or friends, or as a remembrance of someone dear to yourself, the Eastern Redbud memorial tree gift is something that lasts, something both beautiful and strong, a lasting reminder that those who have passed are not entirely gone, but are still with us, in a thousand ways and more.