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Another Misleading Common Name for Redbud: Judas Tree

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Cercis canadensis
has the misleading common name of redbud even though it's flowers are purple. Another peculiar
common name is Judas tree. The genus Cercis is found in North America, Europe and Asia with 22
species. The redbud species Cercissiliquastrum lives in Mediterranean and Asia minor countries and is
supposedly the tree Judas Iscariot hanged himself from after betraying Christ. Redbud is not stout or
strong or tall so would be a poor choice for that purpose. It is, however, a good source of pollen for
insects when not much else is blooming. A apple orchards study in North Carolina and Virginia found
that one of our important native pollinators, a Megachilid bee, preferred redbud pollen to apple pollen
at each site. Another insect that benefits from redbud is Henry's Elfin butterfly, which uses redbud as
one of its larval food sources.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.