Cercis occidentalis

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Western redbud
Cercis occidentalis branch.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Cercis
C. occidentalis
Binomial name
Cercis occidentalis
Cercis occidentalis range map 2.png
Natural range of Cercis occidentalis

Cercis occidentalis, the western redbud or California redbud (syn. Cercis orbiculata — Greene), is a small tree or shrub in the legume family, Fabaceae. It is found across the American Southwest, from California to Utah and Arizona.[1][2]

It is easily recognized when it is in bloom from March to May, when it is covered with small pink to purple flowers.


Cercis occidentalis has thin, shiny brown branches that bear shiny heart-shaped leaves which are light green early in the season and darken as they age. Leaves on plants at higher elevation may turn gold or red as the weather cools.

The showy flowers are bright pink or magenta, and they grow in clusters all over the shrub, making the plant very colorful and noticeable in the landscape. The shrub bears 3-inch-long brown legume pods which are very thin and dry. Its native habitats include dry slopes and foothills of canyons below 1,100 metres (3,600 ft).[3]


Indigenous Californians use the twigs of the western redbud to weave baskets, and even prune the shrub to encourage growth of new twigs. The bark provides a faint reddish dye for the finished basketry.[4] The Concow tribe calls the tree dop[5] or tal'k[6] (Konkow language).


Cercis occidentalis is cultivated as an ornamental plant and tree, for planting in parks and gardens, and as a street tree. It is also used in drought tolerant, native plant, and wildlife gardens.[7]



  1. ^ "Cercis occidentalis". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2013-03-23.
  2. ^ USDA: Cercis orbiculata . accessed 3.23.2013
  3. ^ "Cercis occidentalis Western Redbud, California Redbud PFAF Plant Database". pfaf.org. Retrieved 2021-12-23.
  4. ^ Chesnut, Victor King (1902). Plants used by the Indians of Mendocino County, California. Government Printing Office. p. 357. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  5. ^ Chesnut, p. 404
  6. ^ Chesnut, p. 408
  7. ^ Las Pilitas Nursery database — Cercis occidentalis (Western Redbud) . accessed 3.23.2013
  • Casebeer, M. (2004). Discover California Shrubs. Sonora, California: Hooker Press. ISBN 0-9665463-1-8

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