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What Is a Judas Tree?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 19 July 2014
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The Judas tree is a type of redbud tree that is native to Asian countries. It is a deciduous tree, which means that it loses it leaves in the fall and re-grows them in the spring. During late winter or early spring, this tree produces bright pink or magenta-colored blossoms that occasionally even grow on the trunk. It is sometimes rumored to be the tree that Judas Iscariot hung himself from after he betrayed Jesus.

This tree can grow to anywhere from 12 to 15 feet (3.6 to 4.7 m) in height. It might also spread anywhere from 15 to 20 feet (4.7 to 6 m) in width. It usually prefers full sunlight, but may also grow in areas of partial shade. The Judas tree is somewhat drought-resistant and usually needs only minimal watering.

The flowers of a Judas tree are typically heart-shaped. They normally begin to appear the second year after the tree is planted. An ancient legend proclaims that the flowers of this tree were originally white, but later turned dark with shame after Judas hung himself.

The leaves of this tree are also heart-shaped. They may be medium to light green in color and positioned on dark brown stems. Leaves do not normally appear on the tree until after the flowers have begun to bloom.

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There are also pods on a Judas tree. These are usually long, narrow, and flat. They might be anywhere from six to eight inches (15.2 to 20.3 cm) long. They are usually a light brown color and may also have seeds inside them.

A common myth about this plant is that bees and butterflies will die if they land on one of the branches of the tree. It is sometimes believed that the flowers contain a juice which essentially puts these creatures to sleep. This legend is untrue, because the flowers of this tree cannot pollinate themselves, but rather rely on bees to do this.

The Judas tree, also known as Cercis siliquastrum, is sometimes be exported to the United States, as well as many countries in southern Europe. It is usually very easy to grow and generally requires very little pruning or maintenance. It can occasionally be struck with diseases, such as verticullum wilt, a fungus that affects the plant's leaves, and canker, which are similar to sores on a tree's trunk. People who are looking for a small ornamental tree with lots of spring color may want to consider planting a Judas tree.

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Discuss this Article

popcorn
Post 5

Has anyone ever tried to grow a Judas tree sapling from a greenhouse? Is there anything in particular I should look for to make sure that the plant is healthy?

I have considered growing my Judas tree from tree seeds but it seems like it would just take way to long to see any flowers. I am hoping that if I buy a decent sized sapling that I will be able to enjoy blossoms all the quicker.

I already have a variety of tree fruit in my yard that give me lovely flowers, but I am particularly fond of magenta-colored blossoms that make the Judas tree so striking.

manykitties2
Post 4

If you go and look at a Judas tree picture you can really see how beautiful the tree is. It just looks like a living piece of art, much like the magnolia tree is.

I have a friend with a large property and she has a few Judas trees along her property. The brightly colored blossoms are really something to see when they are in bloom. I love to go to her home and take photos of the newest growing tree, as I find that they are most beautiful when they are not quite fully grown. I feel like the biggest Judas trees have flowers that are a bit to large for my liking.

ysmina
Post 3

@feruze-- It's not hard to grow one from seeds, but it takes a really long time to see any flowers.

I have one that I planted last year late in the fall, it's about 3 feet now. It's looking very good so far, a couple of tiny leaves and sprouts here and there. As for flowers, the lady at the place I bought them said that it can take up to 15 or 20 years to actually see it blossom! Can you imagine?! That's a really long time.

I don't mind because I've got plenty of flowering trees. I wanted a Judas tree to add more variety to the garden. If you want one specifically for the flowers though and can't wait that long, you should buy one instead of planting from seeds.

bear78
Post 2

@simrin- I know! They are so pretty! I want one too and I do have some seeds that I got online, since none of the nurseries around here have any.

I feel like it will be hard to grow them from seeds though. Do you know what's the best way to grow them and when I should plant the seeds?

I hope you get a Judas tree soon!

SteamLouis
Post 1

I saw a Judas tree once, I believe I was told that it is American Redbud? Maybe that's what it's called here. It was one of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen.

It was astonishing because the flowers were blooming from the trunk and I couldn't believe my eyes at first. It was early spring, just as the article mentioned and the flowers were so pretty. They were a dark pink, slightly purple and were growing in small bunches from the trunk.

I saw this tree in upper New York, have no idea how it got there. But it was pretty big so I'm guessing it was planted at least 10-15 years ago. It was a really neat experience though, I wish we could grow one in our yard.

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