18 April 2017

Now That You Mention It

I recently read that the Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a legume like beans and peas -- it manufactures it own nitrogen, adding it to the soil. Well, it actually uses its nitrogen-producing bacteria in the root zone that provide a beneficial relationship with the plants.

This is my second redbud. I wrote about my first one, a Chinese Redbud [posted 02.05.2014]. It grew from seed I received from the National Arboretum -- all volunteers received some. After fifteen years, never becoming large or blooming, it bit the dust.

The second was a single shoot seedling about a foot tall (30 cm) that I purchased from a local botanical garden plant sale from a local "native plant" group. I thought the Eastern US redbud would grow better than the non-native, and it did. After two years, it was 7 feet tall (2 m), but still produced no blooms in spring. After a 17 year wait, a redbud is finally blooming in my yard. Although flowers are found on old wood and are sparse, being such a young tree, any blooms are welcome after the long wait.

Beans, peas, lentils, clover, and peanuts are what come to mind when we talk of legumes. I just learned that the redbud goes on that list. But now that you mention it, redbuds do have some common characteristics of well-know legumes. Look are the leaves. The heart-shape looks very much like those of a bean plant. Look at the flowers closely. Don't the shapes look like blooms from peas, beans, or sweet peas? And the native redbud produces seed pods not unlike those of a string bean or pea.

For The Record:
  • Damp heavy clay soil with several years of rganic amendments -
    bottom of a slope
  • Light shade understory with partial sun
  • No fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease yet

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: woodland phlox, ajuga, anemone, azalea, spirea, dogwood,
    virburnum, columbine, redbud


sweetbay said...
You did wait a long time for redbud blooms! I've gotten several little stick seedlings from the National Arbor Day Foundation (for being a member) and planted them after letting them grow up in a pot for a year. One if them is over 10 feet tall now. I hope yours continues to grow and thrive and you see many more redbud flowers.