Plants & Gardens Blog

All Eyes on the Redbud, and Other Trees in Bloom

This Arbor Day, take a moment to notice the last of your local trees’ spring blooms. Cherry trees, now in their final moments of glory, are far from the only show in town.

The Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), for example, a member of the Fabaceae or pea family, is a strikingly beautiful understory tree native to the United States. Its pea-shaped pinkish-purple flowers are pollinated by long-tongued bees like blueberry bees, carpenter bees, and bumble bees.

Redbuds are cauliflorous, an unusual botanical trait that means they can produce blooms directly on their trunks. This can lend the impression, at least for me, that the tree is being temporarily overwhelmed by its own flowers and transformed into something new, like the character Josie who becomes a plant in the movie Annihilation.

Many other trees are blooming right now at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. They include the sassafras tree (Sassafras albidum) with its small clusters of yellowish star-shaped flowers; the flowering dogwood tree (Cornus florida), which you might know for its showy blooms; and the common horsechestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), whose flowers contain long stamens that flare out in a swoosh.

Click through the images below to learn more, and happy Arbor Day!

Ellie Shechet is the editor of BBG’s digital editorial content.

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