Cercis siliquastrum

28 Apr

Cercis siliquastrum flower (17/04/2011, London)

Cercis siliquastrum flower (17/04/2011, London)

Position: Full sun but will tolerate partial shade

Soil: Moist, well drained

Flowering period: Mid spring

Eventual Height: 10m

Eventual Spread: 10m

Hardiness: 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b

Family: Fabaceae

Cercis siliquastrum is a small deciduous tree with a spreading sometimes multi-stemmed habit. It has inversely heart to kidney shaped, glaucous, blue green leaves with notched tips that turn yellow in autumn. It bears clusters of 3-6, pink, magenta or occasionally white flowers on year old wood. These appear before and with the leaves and often appear directly on the branches of the tree. The tree produces long flat pea like seed pods that hang vertically.

Cercis siliquastrum seed pods (21/08/2011, Athens, Greece)

Cercis siliquastrum seed pods (21/08/2011, Athens, Greece)

Cercis siliquastrum, commonly known as the Judas tree, is native to southern Europe and western Asia. It is mainly cultivated for ornamental use and was first described by Linnaeus in 1753.

The etymological root of the binomial name Cercis was a name given to the plant by the ancient Greek philosopher Theophrastus. It was Linnaeus who gave it the species name siliquastrum, which is derived from the Latin siliqua meaning, “pod”.

Cercis siliquastrum (17/04/2011, London)

Cercis siliquastrum (17/04/2011, London)

The landscape architect may find Cercis siliquastrum useful as a small tree for adding colour to restricted locations. Due to its high canopy, tolerance of poor, compacted soils and urban pollution this tree is well suited as a street tree.

Cercis siliquastrum will tolerate poor, compacted soils and urban pollution.

Ecologically, Cercis siliquastrum will attract pollinating insects such as bees that will feed on its nectar.

The Royal Horticultural Society have given the variety Cercis siliquastrum ‘Bodnant’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit 2012.

Cercis siliquastrum requires little care, dead or damaged material should be removed at the end of winter

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