Shawnee - "Redbud City" of Oklahoma

03/30/2017 Attractions

The redbud is the state tree and in 1941 Shawnee was designated the "Redbud City" of Oklahoma. Guest blogger and Master Gardener, Tom Terry, describes the different types of redbuds and where to find them in town. 

Redbud Tree in front of Santa Fe Depot

The warm temperatures in February and part of March caused the redbud trees to bloom earlier than usual. The typical bloom time is toward the end of March and into April. Fortunately the lower temperatures during the last week  seem to not have affected them.

If you are in the market for a redbud tree, now would be a good time to purchase one. That’s because you would be able to see the intensity of their pink bloom.

A few years ago the Oklahoma City Parks department, in cooperation with several well-known Oklahoma horticulture experts, published the book, “Putting Down Roots.” This book provides information about many trees that grow in Oklahoma. The author of the book, Cercis Canadensis, describes the trees: 

“Oklahoma’s state tree, the redbud is prized for its striking physical characteristics and adaptable nature. The shiny, heart-shaped leaves are attractive on the low branching stems and emerge after the spectacular blooms of spring have faded. Redbuds make wonderful trees for urban areas, due to their moderate size, broad-spreading canopies, and low maintenance requirements. However, this tree needs consistent care during the establishment period of at least the first three years.”

The ‘Oklahoma’ redbud is the most popular redbud in recent years. It is very adaptable to different types of soils and can withstand hot temperatures. It can be planted in full sun or partial shade. Its thick shiny leaves are not as susceptible to leaf rollers.

‘Forest Pansy’ is the name of another popular redbud tree. It has purple-colored leaves and its flower tends toward purple. It also thrives in sun or partial shade. Some examples can be seen in front of Shawnee Hall on the OBU campus. They haven’t formed their leaves yet.

Redbuds in Bloom

Covey is a unique weeping redbud. It reaches a height of 4 to 10 feet. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, staking Covey redbuds allows the tree to grow taller. If not staked they tend to be about 5 feet tall. 

If you like the look of a redbud but would prefer to have one with white instead of pink blooms, the Royal White varietywould be a good choice. It has the same requirements as the ‘Oklahoma’ redbud and would be a striking addition to your front or back yard. I particularly like light colored blooms in the yard about dusk. They seem to glow in the fading light.

If you have time to drive around town to see examples of redbuds in bloom check out the trees in front of the city auditorium, at the 10th street entrance to First Baptist Church, the Oklahoma Native Plant park at Main and Broadway as well as the trees at Larch-Miller, the Beard Street entrance to Redbud Park, and Rose Garden park at Broadway and Franklin.  You might also visit the lovely specimens at the entrance to Kickapoo Spur from Kickapoo Street, around the OBU oval, and at Kickapoo and I-40.

Posted by Tom Terry on 03/30/2017

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