The Garden Guide

Book: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, adapted to North America,1841
Chapter: Section IV. Deciduous Ornamental Trees

Judas tree Cercis siliquastrum

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Nat. Ord. (Natural Order) Leguminos�. Lin. Syst. (Linnean System) Decandria, Monogynia. A handsome low tree, about 20 feet in height, which is found scattered sparsely through warm sheltered valleys, along the Hudson and other rivers of the northern sections of the United States, but most abundantly on the Ohio. It is valuable as an ornamental tree, no less on account of its exceedingly neat foliage, which is exactly heart-shaped, or cordiform, and of a pleasing green tint, than for its pretty pink blossoms. These, which are pea-shaped, are produced in little clusters close to the branches, often in great profusion, early in the spring, before the leaves have expanded. From the appearance of the limbs at that period, it has in some places obtained the name of Redbud. It is then one of the most ornamental of trees, and, in company with the Dog-wood, serves greatly to enliven the scene, and herald the advent of the floral season. These blossoms, according to J.C. Loudon (Encyclopedia of Plants), having an agreeable poignancy, are frequently eaten in salads abroad, and pickled by the French families in Canada. The name of Judas tree appears to have been whimsically bestowed by Gerard, an old English gardener, who described it in 1596, and relates that "this is the tree whereon Judas did hange himselfe; and not upon the elder tree, as it is said." There are two species in common cultivation; the American (Cercis Canadensis) and the European (Cercis Siliquastrum). The latter much resembles our native tree. The flowers, however, are deeper in color; the leaves darker, and less pointed at the extremity. It also produces blossoms rather more profusely than the American tree. Both species are highly worthy of a place in the garden, or near the house, where their pleasing vernal influences may be observed.