Redbuds are one of the first native Ozark tree species to blossom in the spring. Blossoms typically begin appearing around March 25 and last to about April 12 - depending on weather conditions. The white blossoms of the wild plums and cherries appear before the redbud blooms. As with any spring bloom, trees in northern-facing terrain will bloom later than southern-facing terrain. It is not uncommon to see both redbud and dogwoods in bloom at the same time, but typically redbuds fade about the same time dogwoods start to bloom.
You'll see redbuds almost everywhere, mostly in groups of two or three trees. In some locations there may be several hundred in a grove. You can see redbuds especially well in cedar stands as the dark green of the cedars contrast very well with the pinkish-purple redbud blossoms. Because redbuds are commonly grown ornamentals you'll also see them in yards and other manmade landscapes. Redbuds also appear as understory growth in many hardwood forests.
Redbuds typically grow from about 10 to 30 feet high with trunk diameters of about 3 to 10 inches. Crowns are typically about 12 to 15 feet wide. The species is ramiflorous (bearing both fruit and flowers) which is rare in the Ozarks. Redbuds are actually a member of the pea family, which is reflected in their pod-shaped fruit that is about 2 to 3 inches long. The pod turns brown in the fall, stays on the tree most of the winter, then falls just prior to spring bloom. The leaves are somewhat heart-shaped and may be 2 to 6 inches long. Fall color is a pure yellow. The trunks may be single or multi-stemmed. The trunks of older trees may become fissured and reddish brown in color.
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