While Redbud is not an uncommon tree on Creighton’s campus, the best specimen, arguably, is located in a small garden on the southwest corner of the Bio-Information Center. There, surrounded by the brick and asphalt of BIC, Boyne Dental School, and Creighton University Medical Center, it shades a pair of benches and creates a welcome oasis.
Eastern Redbud is one of the first trees to flower when spring arrives in southeast Nebraska, which is the northwestern edge of its native range. Within this range it occurs naturally as an understory tree, often found at the edges of eastern and central hardwood forests where it reaches out from beneath the larger trees for sunlight.
In April small, clustered flower buds open to pink-lavender, pea-like flowers that last two to three weeks. The flowers are unique in that they are sessile, or stemless; attached directly to the stems, branches, and trunk of the tree. The heart-shaped leaves emerge bronze and slowly turn green, and fall color is usually an unimpressive gold or chartreuse. The bark on mature trees is brown-gray with thin exfoliating strips revealing the cinnamon-orange interior bark.
As a landscape tree, Redbud is tolerant of a wide range of site conditions and is not especially vulnerable to insects or diseases. Disease and insect problems include trunk canker, Verticillium wilt, and scale. Beware that, because of its extensive range, the hardiness of Redbud can vary greatly and trees from northern seed stock are best suited for Nebraska landscapes.