Discover nature this week with a walk outdoors, and keep an eye out for blooming Eastern redbud trees (Cercis canadensis).
Find these small, ornamental, Missouri-native trees in woodlands, glades, and along rocky streams and bluffs, as well as in urban landscape plantings. Young trees have smooth, reddish brown to gray bark which will develop long grooves and short, thin, blocky plates as the trees grow older.
Leaves are simple, alternate, and oval to heart shaped. But before leaves emerge, small, clustered, rose-purple flowers adorn the bare branches.
The flowers are edible and can be fried, pickled or eaten raw. Bees also use the flowers as a nectar source. Several species of birds feed on redbud seeds, and white-tailed deer browse on the foliage.
Redbud blooms typically last from late march to early may, but this week is a great time to get out and see their first show of color this year.
Learn more about Eastern redbuds and find places near you to watch them in the wild with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.