Cercis siliquastrum, Judas Tree, Love Tree

Cercis siliquastrum

Judas Tree, Love Tree
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Origin: South East Europe
USDA Zone: 6-9?
USDA Plant Hardiness MapSmall tree 10-20 ftSemi-shadeFull sunModerate waterWhite, off-white flowersPink flowersSubtropical or temperate zone plant. Mature plant cold hardy at least to 30s F for a short time

Leaves appear late on this spectacular flowering tree, after the startling clusters of pea-shaped blooms which can smother the tree and burst from the new young shoots, the surface of the bare branches and even the main trunk of the tree. To flower well it needs full sun and a long warm summer the previous year, and it is not so impressive in cooler gardens. From late summer onwards, large bunches of rich purple pods deck the branches and last well into winter, while the pretty foliage turns light yellow and chestnut in autumn. In France this tree was known as the tree from Judaea (l'arbre de Judee), an area in the Middle-East. Some say that Judas tree is therefore a corruption of 'Judaea tree', whereas others connect it to a legend that Judas Iscariot hung himself on this tree after betraying Christ and ever since its spring flowers have been a deep rosy-red. Propagation is by seed or root suckers. The tree is not fully hardy, but can be grown in full sunlight and warm sheltered places, such as south-facing walls. It likes limy soil and tolerates polluted city air. The unusual feature of this tree is that the flowers do not only cover the twigs, but can even sprout from the old bark on the main trunk. The plants begin to flowers from 5-6 years old. The flat pods stay on the tree until well into the winter. Up to 33ft high.

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