Thursday, April 15, 2010

What are those beautiful lavendar-pink trees?

No doubt anyone driving in the country this time of year has noticed these showy small trees scattered along the roadside and at the edges of woodlands. 
The Redbud, also known as Eastern Redbud or Judas Tree, is abundant in the southern two-thirds of Ohio, with scattered distribution in the northern one-third of the state . It heralds the arrival of spring with its showy, lavendar-pink flowers that typically open in April, long before the foliage emerges. Redbud is a native of the entire eastern half of the United States (except for New England), but is not found in Canada, as its scientific name implies. This ornamental tree is rapidly growing and usually multitrunked in the wild, having a vase shape with a rounded crown that reaches about 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide at maturity, when found in the open. However, since it is often located at the edge of woodlands, it commonly has a leaning growth habit, trying to grow into as much sunlight as possible.
As a member of the Bean Family, Redbud is also related to Honeylocust, Kentucky Coffeetree, Black Locust, and Wisteria, as well as other types of Redbuds. The Bean Family is also known as the Legume, Pea, or Pulse Family, and may go by the alternative scientific family name of Leguminosae. Many of this family's members are important vegetable crops as well as ornamental plants.
Planting Requirements - Redbud prefers deep, moist, organic, well-drained soils, but adapts to many less-than-favorable soils of either acidic or alkaline pH as long as they are not wet. It grows most rapidly and flowers most prolifically in full sun if adequate moisture is available during the heat of summer, but it is often found in partial sun to partial shade in nature. It can grow in zones 4 to 9, but occurs naturally in zones 5 to 9.
Potential Problems - Redbud grows rapidly and often lives about twenty years before it begins to decline or die, especially in urban situations where poorly drained, heavy clay soils predominate. Trunk canker is a serious disease of Redbud, and is evident as sunken depressions in the bark of large branches or trunks, which often begin to heal before the tree eventually dies. Verticillium wilt and root rot are two additional, serious pathogens that affect the roots (often due to wet soils) but become evident as entire branches rapidly die. Some pests (such as scales) may also cause problems, but the tree diseases sited above wreak havoc on Redbud and limit its lifespan.

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