Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Redbud Reflections

 I live in an older Lincoln neighborhood and get the privilege of living near beautiful large trees. Notice I said near. You see, my block is devoid of most large trees and home to a few pears, some self-seeded elm, mulberry and crabapple seedlings, a few nice evergreens and a beautiful old Eastern redbud, which happens to be outside my balcony.  Cercis canadensis, a small understory tree native to Nebraska and much of the US extending east to the Atlantic ocean and south all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.  Most people can recognize it in the spring by the magenta flowers and summer by the heart shaped leaves.  There are some beautiful redbuds around this area.  There are also some that look so bedraggled that redbuds get a bad rap.  Usually it is because we stick them in wind swept sites with poor soil and throw up our hands when they don’t thrive.  In nature they grow in protected areas among large overstory trees. Other times it may because we picked one up from the local box store not realizing the seed source was from ‘down south’ and not adapted for Nebraska.  Since redbuds have such a large range there is a lot of variability so picking a tree grown from a ‘Northern’ seed source or even better a ‘Nebraska’ seed source will provide a tree that is adapted to our climate.  Then there are the trees that haven’t grown since we planted them which can happen when we move large nursery stock in a species that is extremely sensitive to being transplanted.  




Redbud in native Nebraska habitat

For the last year I have been doing a completely un-scientific observation of my redbud.  In the spring it is a favorite of honey bees. I can hear the hum from inside my place.  It is super sensitive to 2-4 D damage.  Curled leaves are a common sight in spring.  Mostly I am fascinated by the observation that it is LOVED by birds. I’ve hardly seen any birds in the pear trees, except for a Flicker that passed through last summer, stopping on the large, decaying Pear that is now gone. However the redbud, from dawn to dusk, brims with life. Chickadees, Juncos, Cardinals, Bluejays, Downy Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Morning Doves, and an array of sparrow species.  I’ve even sighted a goldfinch in the tree and twice a hawk. These feathered friends spend a lot of time there eating the seeds, picking off insects, and jubilantly carry on.  I’m sure that it is not JUST because it is a red bud.  There are some dense shrubs near it, some wayward mulberry and elm saplings nearby, and a beautiful hummus and leaf filled bed below. Now I have feeders up, and the birds have ventured onto my balcony, giving my two cats and I quite a bit of entertainment.   Perhaps more than anything my year of observation has put Eastern Redbud higher on the list of trees to plant in the beneficial landscape.

2 comments:

  1. For the last year I have been doing a completely un-scientific observation of my redbud. In the spring it is a favorite of honey bees. I can hear the hum from inside my place.trees for sale

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  2. he generic name, Cercis, comes from the Greek ‘Kerkis’, a weaver’s shuttle, which the fruits are said to resemble.forsythia for sale

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