Foraging for Redbud's Flavorful Flowers

| 3/24/2015 1:02:00 PM

Tags: Leda Meredith, foraging, edible wild plants, redbuds,


Redbud's bright pink blossoms are one of the glories of spring, but they're not just eye candy. Those blossoms have a delicious flavor that is like a green bean with a lemony aftertaste.

Where to Find Redbud Trees

Different species of redbud grow in different parts of the world, each with edible blossoms. In eastern North America, look for Cercis canadensis; in California and other western states, look for C. occidentalis; and around the Mediterranean and some parts of Asia you'll find C. siliquastrum.

Redbud is a favorite with landscapers, who have spread it as far as Australia and South Africa. It is also because of landscapers that you'll often find it growing in urban and suburban areas. Left to its own devices, redbud likes to grow on sunny slopes but can survive as an understory tree or shrub. 

How to Identify

Redbuds are small trees with branches that often grow in a quirky zigzag pattern. The bark of young redbuds is smooth but becomes craggy as the trees mature. The clusters of pink or magenta blossoms appear before the leaves and seem to be growing directly out of the bark. The individual blossoms have an irregular shape like pea flowers, and indeed redbud is in the same legume plant family (Fabaceae) as peas.

The heart-shaped leaves have smooth edges, stalks with slightly swollen bases, and grow in an alternate pattern on the branches.

4/13/2015 6:32:42 PM

I really wish you had posted this two weeks redbuds are finished blooming! What is the nutritional value of the blooms? Are there other flowering trees that are edible?

4/13/2015 7:29:53 AM

I never knew redbud flowers were edible. I love learning about plants that grow in the wild that are edible. Thanks!

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