Cercis – Popular Shrubs for the Garden
Cercis siliquastrum is the Judas Tree, sometimes seen as a tree 20-25 feet tall, sometimes as a shrub, reaching about 12-15 feet. It ought to be grown more often, as it is perfectly hardy and is a very fine sight when in full flower in May, just, before the leaves are fully open. At that time each twig carries its quota of purple-pink peaand these often appear in little clusters on the trunks of older-established plants. Purplish seed-pods, 3-4 inches long, follow the flowers.
Even out of flower the shrub is attractive for the greenish-grey leaves are round, almost heart-shaped. There is a white-flowered form, alba, where the leaves are paler in colour.
The Judas Tree does not require special and needs only a sunny situation to settle down, although it is best established from a pot as, like some other pea-flowered shrubs, it does not like root disturbance. Seeds germinate readily in pots of John Innes Seed Compost.
The related Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis, is seen even less often because it is a tender shrub and prefers the milder conditions of western areas. It reaches about 15 feet and has bright green, kidney-shaped leaves and rose-coloured flowers.
Cercis canadensis, the Red-Bud, is a hardier variety, but its rosy-pink flowers are smaller than those of the Judas Tree and the latter is to be preferred if there is room for only one to be grown.