Redbud in March, Redbud in April

Three weeks into March, the Eastern Redbuds in Eliza Howell Park in Detroit still look like they did when the leaves fell last Fall.

But three weeks into April, the Redbuds will represent the brightness and beauty of Spring. What a difference one month makes! (The April photos are from April 20, 2021.)

The flowers usually appear in April before there are any leaves on these small trees and the seeds hang on into Winter (sometimes through the entire Winter), long after the leaves have fallen.

As might be guessed from the shape and look of the seeds, Redbud is part of the legume family of plants (which include beans and peas). Contrary to other legumes, however, Redbud cannot fix nitrogen from the atmosphere (the legume trait that is perhaps best known to organic gardeners).

In Eliza Howell Park, the Redbud is quite common along the edge where the trees and the fields meet. It is is not noticed much until the flowers appear in April, calling attention to itself for two or more weeks.

Southern Michigan is at the northern end of the native range of Eastern Redbud.

My experience has been that, while Redbud in bloom is quite well known to individuals who come on nature walks, Redbud in seed is not. This is not surprising, of course; there is no comparison in terms of visibility and attractiveness.

The Redbud in April is only a few short weeks away .

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