Judas, Judah-ah-ah, Judas

These pea-like blooms belong to the Redbud tree (Cercis) currently blooming in our front yard. This year marks its best flowering yet; the first two springs it produced only a few blooms, and I was beginning to worry. Those fears were laid to rest when I saw the buds forming earlier in the season. Like the American dogwood, this tree flowers before the foliage appears. Going one step further in uniqueness, it flowers directly from the bark, as opposed to the ends of the stem, like most trees.

The origin of its common name is under dispute. Some say it was the tree that Judas hung himself from after betraying Jesus. Others contend the flowers and seedpods resemble the hung Judas after said act. Whatever the reason, great tragedy often belies great beauty.

The slightly heart-shaped leaves remain fresh and vibrant throughout the summer season, a boon to its sun-baked location beside the driveway. This was one of those unassuming below-the-radar trees that I never gave much thought to until late in my gardening game. I was impelled to try it out when reading about its beauty in a tree guide book. The author was so enamored that he claimed if he had but one tree to grow in the world, the redbud would be at the top of his list. What can I say, I’m an easy target for (and source of) dramatic exaggeration.

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