Western Redbud

Cercis occidentalis

This small California native tree-shrub has dark red buds that open into hot pink-flowers in early spring. The flowers are followed by attractive round leaves that tend to flutter in the breeze. In the fall each leaf will show red/orange/yellow fall color which is fairly subtle from a distance, but quite pretty up close.

Western Redbuds are native to California’s foothill regions and are adapted to poor rocky soil, good drainage, and low to very low irrigation in the summer. While they will survive with very low irrigation, they will look better with low  along with other ‘Water wise” plants.

The Western Redbud grows as a multi-trunked large shrub or small tree.  For a the first few years, the Redbud will look like a shrub. But as it gets taller, the lower foliage can be removed revealing the lower branches and turning it into a petite tree. Because of their small size and tolerance for pruning, the Western Redbuds can be pruned to fit narrow spots such as a side yards where even a small tree will be too large.

During the 2-3 weeks of bloom, the Redbud attracts pollinators such as bees. Be thoughtful about where you place this tree and how you prune it so that you do not need brush against it when it’s blooming and risk a sting. When pruned into a small tree, most of the flowers will be above head height and pose less of a risk of stings than low plants like lavender or rosemary that have flowers near feet and legs. Western Redbuds blooms support native pollinators.

Height: 10-15 feet
Spread: 12-20 feet
Growth Rate: moderate

Irrigation needed: very low to low
Fall Color: Yellow/orange/red, subtle
Flowers: 1/2 in., magenta-pink, spring, cover the tree
Seeds/Fruit: 2-4 in. long, flattened pea pods

Planting Distances
Foundation: 4 feet
Drives/Patios: 3 feet
Fence: 3 feet
Small trees: 10 feet

Ok under high voltage power lines