Posted on: April 9, 2010

Cercis canadensis

When the Redbud tree blooms it is time to make Groundhog Salad. This meatless salad is prepared from any or all the fresh edible wild greens and as much of the purplish pink flowers of the Redbud tree that you wish. At our house the Redbud trees were in grave danger when they bloomed. Between the children’s antics to gather them, usually scaling the thin tree’s trunk repeatedly, and the “one for you two for me” it was usually best if I gathered the flowers personally to ensure we had enough for a good salad. The flower buds can be pickled and the flowers added to refrigerator style vegetable pickles but the flowers do loose their pink/purple color. They dry but are not as tasty as when they are fresh.

When you look at the landscape the brilliant purple/pink flowers of the Redbud tree stand out even if they are not growing next to evergreens like this Eastern Red Cedar.

The medicinal part is the inner bark. Taking a twig about ½ inch in diameter, the bark is peeled off then the flexible, inner material, the cadmium layer, is gently pulled away from the outer bark. Dried then ground, using a manual or electric coffee bean grinder or an herb grater, the dried cadmium is ground coarsely to prepare tea or infusions. Redbud has been used to treat fevers, diarrhea, and dysentery. Respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and whooping cough were commonly treated with a preparation of Redbud, Cherry and Horehound. The remedy was not as bad tasting as using Horehound alone.

The thin branches split easily allowing them to be used in basketry and other weaving projects.

The most common use for Redbud is in basket making. The thin, flexible stems produce a light colored material that is durable. The wood grain is very tight and polishes up nicely. It is a heavy material. Each cubic foot weighs about 40 pounds. Redbuds do not get very large but can be used as firewood. The density provides a wood with a good BTU rating. Since Redbud trees do not achieve heights above 20 feet they are considered “solar friendly” and are planted around green homes that use solar roof panels.

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