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Redbuds are beautiful deciduous trees that have brilliant pink buds on bare branches in the early spring and then heart-shaped leaves that turn colors in the fall. They provide year round interest and are a focal point in the garden.

There are two varieties that we commonly use in our landscapes here in the Bay Area – Cercis occidentalis (Western Redbud) and Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud).

Cercis occidentalis is a stunning California native that grows 10 to 18 feet tall and wide, and is usually multi-trunked. It has magenta flowers and a notched or rounded tip on its heart-shaped blue-green leaves, which turn yellow or red in the fall. It is low water once established and resists oak root fungus.

Cercis canadensis is native to the Eastern U.S. and is generally larger (25 to 35 feet tall and wide) and single trunked. Its heart-shaped leaves have a pointed tip and it is a medium water user. It has a number of cultivars with different leaf colors, sizes and forms. ‘Forest Pansy’ has beautiful purple leaves; ‘Lavender Twist’ has a weeping form and needs afternoon shade; and ‘Hearts of Gold’ has lavender flowers followed by leaves that go from pink, to lime and gold, and finally to green.

At SFLA, we love to include these heart-shaped and heartfelt trees in our landscape projects!

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